Monofilament fishing line is a serious threat to birds and other wildlife in the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida. Discarded fishing line and other dangerous entangling debris collects in local bird sanctuaries and colonial nesting areas, where birds and other wildlife can easily become entangled or hooked. Hundreds, and probably thousands, of birds die annually in Florida as a result. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists have identified monofilament fishing line as the number one killer of adult brown pelicans. In the water column, fishing line can also affect fish and marine mammals.
Tampa Bay and the Gulf coast contain some of the most important bird colonies in the entire state. In fact, the National Audubon's Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries directly protects or assists in the protection of more than 50,000 breeding pairs of birds of 25 species, many of which are endangered, threatened, or a designated species of special concern. Although many of the colonial islands are protected as sanctuaries or wildlife refuges and are closed to public access seasonally or throughout the year, fishing line accumulates and birds unnecessarily die. Careless anglers may snag their line on mangroves and discard it. Birds hooked at fishing piers or elsewhere may return to nesting colonies or roosts, trailing line that drapes over trees and ultimately endangers the lives of the residents. Birds also may weave monofilament line into their nests, threatening both the adults and their young.
Tampa Bay Watch and the National Audubon Society's Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries coordinate a yearly regional monofilament cleanup event during the non-nesting season (October or early November), where community volunteers enter colonial bird nesting islands and scour the vegetation for monofilament line and other entangling debris. It is estimated that each year due to the monofilament cleanup effort, at least 200-300 birds survive that would have otherwise been entangled and killed. In addition, Tampa Bay Watch and the National Audubon Society post islands closed during the nesting season.
For more information on this program, contact Kevin Misiewicz, or to find out how you can get involved with monofilament recycling in the community, visit The Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program's web site. The Annual Monofilament Cleanup occurs in mid-October when birds are not nesting.
Become a volunteer, and be notified of upcoming cleanup events.