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Clear Your Gear releases second video

By Staff | May 10, 2017

Images from the Clear Your Gear, “Monofilament Musical” video. PHOTO PROVIDED

A second video has been released for the Clear Your Gear project, which takes a humorous approach through the beat of an Irish folk song to encourage viewers to think about what happens to monofilament line once its disposed.

Mark Meyers of TradeMarky Films said his first thought in creating the video was to use real people singing about ways to clean up monofilament line. He said it was important to portray that message in a fun manner, so they would remember it when out and about.

When his creative director, Jeanne Clark, was looking for a song, she stumbled upon “Drunken Sailor,” which prompted Clark and Meyers to replace the lyrics with lines about monofilament while keeping the same beat of the song. Meyers said Jesus Martinez did the sound mixing for the video.

“We wanted to create something that would illustrate the seriousness of the problem, appeal to a broad audience, and make people laugh. Mark was able to help us make that happen successfully with his ideas and talent,” said Sanibel Sea School’s Leah Biery, who is also a member of the Clear Your Gear Committee.

The talent in the video include Jammer, Sam Guerrero, Talia Tuminello, the Sanibel Fire Department, Toni Westland, Matt Spaulding, Sean O’Connor and Daryl Routhe.

Images from the Clear Your Gear, “Monofilament Musical” video. PHOTO PROVIDED

Meyers said he wants to offer a special thanks to Mike McMilian, the Bait Box, and J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

After Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife Hospital Director Heather Barron arrived at CROW on Jan. 1, 2012 she began to notice a good amount of hook and line wildlife patient causalities come to the hospital. Unfortunately, that number seemed to only increase over the years.

“We have a computerized medical database system, so when animals come in they receive a code for what is wrong with them. Hook and monofilament line causalities have their own codes, so it is very easy to search our database for trends. One of the things that I noticed was over several years there was an upward trend in the number of hook and line cases,” she said.

Barron thought that kind of causality could be preventable. It could be prevented through educating people, which would hopefully decrease the problem.

“I got together with some like-minded conservation organizations on the island. That was SCCF, ‘Ding’ Darling, The Sea School, the City of Sanibel, Monofilament Busters and ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Society. We sort of all got together and brainstormed about what would be the best way to approach this problem,” she said.

Images from the Clear Your Gear, “Monofilament Musical” video. PHOTO PROVIDED

From that gathering, Clear Your Gear, began.

Biery said all of the groups had been seeing the harms of monofilament line on wildlife and decided to come together and use their strengths to improve the situation. She said they wanted to raise awareness about monofilament line and encourage people to change their behavior and recycle the line.

“I wrote a grant that was fortunately funded by West Coast Inland Navigation District. Their primary goal is to make the waters of Southwest Florida healthier,” Barron said.

They provided some funding, as well as Solutions to Avoid Red Tide and the local fishing club, the Sanibel-Captiva Fishing Club. Barron said because of that support they were able to put together a multi-pronged attack on the problem. The group created recycling monofilament bins located throughout the island. They also worked with NOISE, who helped in creating the website, www.clearyourgear.org, as well as their branding and brochure design.

Biery said they now have 26 bins located on the Causeway and throughout Sanibel and Captiva. She said they also have had individuals ask for instructions to place bins in Fort Myers. A boy scout troop also put together monofilament bins for around their neighborhood.

Clear Your Gear monofilament line recycling bins are located throughout the island. PHOTO PROVIDED

In addition, Biery said one of the Sanibel Sea School students also asked for instructions, so a bin could be placed around a lake in Wisconsin.

Barron said they are working with Keep Lee County Beautiful, as well as their parks and recreation department to make sure they have all of the support they need to get the monofilament bins out in areas.

A media campaign – a website, and Facebook page – also began to help spread the word.

“The idea was to make it a very friendly, engaging sort of proposition, so anglers would be interested in seeing what we were putting out there. We wanted very much for our message to be a positive one. One that we understand fishing and Southwest Florida is a very positive past time. We are very supportive of that,” Barron said. “I’m a fisherperson. Everyone in my family loves to fish. The Sea School feels very much the same way. Really what we wanted to do is say is most anglers are already very responsible, but we would just like to find a way to engage everybody and kind of have a consistent approach to the problem.”

The Clear Your Gear campaign seems to be working due to the 26 bins on the Causeway, as well as all over Sanibel and Captiva remain pretty full.

“One problem that we have is despite very large signs that are very prominent on the recycling bins that says no trash, we still get a lot of trash in the bins. It’s very difficult for us because we don’t have any paid staff, so we are not a separate 501c3. We are just a collaboration of sustained 501c3s. We have to get volunteers to go around and empty the bins for us,” Barron said. “You can imagine they are not very keen on digging out dirty diapers out of the monofilament line to go into the regular trash. On the other hand we are glad it’s not being thrown away into the environment, but we wish people put their trash where it’s supposed to go.”

Since the campaign began, they have collected more than 25 miles of monofilament line that has been recycled. Biery said volunteers do a beach cleanup weekly, as well as empty the recycling bins every two weeks to a month.

The monofilament line goes through a different recycling procedure, than regular recyclables.

Barron said putting the line in any other kind of recycling bin is useless and will eventually end up in the trash.

“It has to go through a special recycling center and we make all of that happen,” she said. “Monofilament line can last anywhere from 500 to 600 years in the environment. Thinking that if you just throw it away in the water it will eventually dissolve, it doesn’t work. I think people do believe that because they notice the line on their spool after a year or two starts to get brittle and breaks easily. So, I think that leads them to believe that monofilament line breaks down rapidly, but that is really not the case. When it’s in the water it can last for a very long time.”

Barron said divers in the area have told her there is a ton of monofilament line around the popular fishing spots and around piers.

“So, that was kind of our thrust. If you are a fisherperson you don’t want to be out on the boat and getting your prop fouled with line that people have cast into the water, or if you are fishing you don’t want to risk stepping on a fishing hook if you are wading out into the water, or if you are a swimmer you don’t want to take that risk,” she said.

The group felt that it was not just a problem that faces people who love wildlife, but rather a global problem.

The website provides details of what a person can do to cut down on having wildlife get into trouble, or the environment suffer from monofilament line.

Since the bins and signs were installed in 2016, Barron does not have any concrete evidence that the campaign has decreased the hook and line wildlife causalities.

“Until we go through one complete season with those signs out it will be kind of hard to gage those numbers. We did see a little bit of a decrease in 2016, but that’s not enough years for me to be able to say yes what we did worked,” Barron said. “I think it will need at least three years for me to be convinced that we are on a downward trend.”

CROW is still seeing hook and line causalities with birds and sea turtles.

The second video is geared towards trying to prevent the problem, while the first video provides assistance in helping wildlife that was hooked and lined.

Meyers said the first video is animated using a little set, stage and a pelican, which was created in pieces, so they could control what it was doing during production. He said he shot the video looking straight down.

“We had control over what the bird did and when the hook went into the bird, so we could communicate the message clearly of what to do when a bird got hooked,” Meyers said.

The website has a map of all of the locations of the recycling bins.

“I think it’s awesome,” Meyers said of the campaign. “All the fishermen are really positive and responsive to it. It’s a great cause, especially for down here.”

For more information, visit www.clearyourgear.org.