Over 2 million people fish in the state of Texas. If we add that all up, Texans spend more than 34,735,000 days fishing annually! Often by accident or neglect, fishing line gets left behind. It can snag on different things, such as rocks or trees or depending on the age, the line can break without warning. It can also be carried away by the wind or tossed overboard purposefully. Fishing line adds up in the environment over time.
Fishing line, which is a contributor of nonpoint source pollution, harms species on land and in the water. Because it is made from artificial materials, the line does not break down naturally (biodegrade) and can persist for up to 600 years in the environment. That means the fishing line keeps fishing for centuries, harming birds, turtles, fish, dolphins, and other marine organisms. This occurrence, termed “ghost fishing”, is a worldwide problem. In fact, according to the World Wildlife Fund, an estimated 640,000 tonnes out of the eight million tonnes of plastic that enters the ocean annually is equipment that contributes to ghost fishing.
Fishing line is a serious litter problem along waterways, particularly near ramps and docks. It can ensnare propellers and damage boats, while being perilous for divers. It poses a risk to human and economic health, and is an eyesore.
Remove and Recycle
You can make a difference to wildlife in Texas and around the world by keeping fishing line out of our waterways. When you lose your line or see it in the environment, do your best to recover it. Hooks, bobbers, and plant material should be taken out before recycling at a monofilament recovery and recycle station.
If you are a Texas Stream Team citizen scientist and are out at your site monitoring, please record your monofilament or other fishing line findings on the Texas Stream Team monitoring form. If you a member of the public, please report your findings here.
If you are unable to recycle the line, cut it into pieces less than 6 inches long and dispose of it in a trashcan.
Save lives - don’t leave your line behind!
Monofilament line is the most commonly used fishing line. It is a single-strand, high-density nylon line that is used on fishing reels. Only monofilament line is recyclable.
Braided line or line that contains wire cannot be recycled. Even if the line isn’t recyclable, it should be removed from the environment. If you are unable to recycle the line, cut it into pieces less than 6 inches long and dispose of it in a trashcan. Because birds can take fishing line from trashcans, consider mailing the clean monofilament line to Berkley Recycling.
Monofilament line kills wildlife in multiple ways. One hazard is entanglement. The plastic line can wrap around the bodies of different animals making it impossible for them to move. They can die from infection, starvation, predation, or suffocation.
Another threat is ingestion. When consumed, the plastic creates a false sense of fullness and animals can die from lack of food. Because animals did not evolve consuming plastic, plastic particles are also very difficult for them to digest, and when plastic is accidentally consumed it can cause severe gastrointestinal consequences that can potentially lead to death. This issue affects marine and coastal animals significantly. According to the Environmental Investigation Agency, approximately 90% of seabirds and 56% of marine mammals have been documented ingesting plastic. Filter feeding animals, such as whales and clams, are also at-risk for ingesting microplastics and other toxic substances. This phenomenon has become so widespread that reducing plastic consumption has become a worldwide, high-priority effort.
If you see impacted wildlife, follow guidelines from your local animal rescue operation. Locate additional rehab centers by county here: www.TPWD.Texas.gov
• Angleton: Gulf Coast Wildlife Rescue
• Austin: Austin Wildlife Rescue
• Corpus Christi: Texas State Aquarium
• Dallas: Rogers Wildlife
• Houston: TWRC Wildlife Center
• Lubbock: South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Inc.
• Magnolia: Friends of Texas Wildlife
• San Antonio: Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation
• Weatherford: Bat World Sanctuary, Inc.
Texas Stream Team is working to restore habitat and protect wildlife across our state by mobilizing a network of trained citizen scientists to remove fishing line and recycle monofilament line. We collect the data reported by our citizen scientists, manage the recycling station at Spring Lake, and are working to increase the number of recycling stations in Central Texas. For more information about Texas Stream Team Monofilament Finders, please contact TxStreamTeam@txstate.edu.
Please contact TxStreamTeam@txstate.edu if you are interested in learning more about incorporating Texas Stream Team or Monofilament Finders into your program. We can help with citizen science-based water quality monitoring, environmental assessments, riparian habitat assessments, monofilament removal, and more!