homepage logo

City backs ‘Clear Your Gear’

By Staff | May 13, 2015

The goal of adding more fishing gear disposal bins at fishing areas on Sanibel hopefully will be met by the collaborative effort by several non-profit organizations on the island. The Sanibel Sea School will manage the bins on a volunteer basis. PHOTO PROVIDED

A collaborative effort by several Sanibel non-profit organizations is focusing on the non-target animal victims resulting from leftover fishing gear, which has been on the rise over the last several years.

Non-profit entities “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society and Refuge, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) and the Sanibel Sea School are putting out an educational initiative entitled “Clear Your Gear” to heighten awareness of the impact of left-out fishing gear, such as monofilament line and hooks can have on the environment.

Now the effort has the City of Sanibel behind it, after the May 5 City Council meeting.

The City Council voted 4-0 to sign onto with the collaborative group.

The project’s mission is to address the discarded monofilament fishing lines and hooks, which kills hundreds of thousands of non-target animals each year.

Vets at the CROW hospital remove a hook which was lodged inside a sea turtle’s mouth. PHOTO PROVIDED

CROW’s hospital director Dr. Heather Barron gave a power point presentation for the City Council May 5, which cited the project mission statement as to saving lives.

“Fishing gear cases at CROW increased by 40-percent over the past two years,” Barron said. “Our goals include to have a cleaner environment and reduce monofilament line and other dangerous discarded fishing gear.”

In 2013, CROW treated a 23-percent increase in the number of wildlife admitted with hook and line injuries.

The amount of monofilament line disposed of improperly is also increasing and it’s becoming a problem for the Lee County’s area wildlife.

Barron gave an example of Lee County’s event of “Monofilament Madness”, in which volunteers go out and collect monofilament which has been discarded into the environment.

“They collected enough line to stretch from Fort Myers to Tallahassee (393.4 miles) over the last three years,” Barron said. “People don’t realize monofilament line lasts up to 300 to 500 years.”

The movement will like to add more monofilament recycling bins, with educational panels attached to them. The bins will be placed in fishing areas, which will be voluntarily managed by the Sanibel Sea School.

The goal is placing 24X16 inch bins, made of PVC pipe, at 20 locations, which includes six city properties, around Sanibel. The bins are professionally designed and produced and will increase the number of current bins almost twofold.

Another project goal includes providing stickers for tackleboxes, which can be scanned by iphones or Droids to link up with a website for instructions in case a non-target animal is hooked.

The project also wants to educate the public on the benefits of using “green” fishing gear, which is biodegradable and lasts only up to five years.

“It isn’t just monofilament lines, either, but discarded casting nets and lost crab traps which are also dangers to the wildlife,” said Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge manager Paul Tritaik.

Research is another goal of the group’s, which will document effective intervention efforts. The research will include tracking case admissions and successful releases; tally the amount of monofilament and other gear collected annually and monitor website traffic.

The steering committee will be compromised of the four non-profit organizations on Sanibel, including: Dr. Barron, Leah Biery (Sanibel Sea School’s Director of Operations), Claudia Burns (Monofilament Busters), Kelly Sloan (Biologist at SCCF), Joel Caouette (biologist at SCCF), Tritaik and Jason Cull (biologist, City of Sanibel).