Coastal Conservation

Successfully Dispose of Fishing Line - Save a Skimmer!

by Kylie Wilson, Sarasota Seasonal Bird Stewardship Coordinator.

Florida is the fishing capital of the world. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) there are four million licensed anglers in the state and saltwater fishing is a $9.2 billion industry. Fishing is an important aspect of Florida’s economy and a pastime enjoyed by tourists and locals alike. While angling is quintessential to the Florida lifestyle, it can negatively impact the environment, particularly when fishing line and tackle is discarded improperly.

Recently, fishing line and tackle entanglements have been a problem for our threatened nesting Black Skimmer colony on Lido Key along Florida's Gulf Coast. As the Sarasota Seasonal Bird Stewardship Coordinator for Audubon Florida, I have received several reports of entanglements just during this summer nesting season alone. One was a chick that was only three weeks old, not even yet able to fly; the line caused severe damage to the legs and it did not survive. I found another adult hooked in the wing and trailing about 10 feet of line. The loose line had then entangled another bird, a Royal Tern, and they were stuck together. The two birds were rescued, brought to Save Our Seabirds – the local rehab center – and disentangled. Staff there released the Black Skimmer immediately after removing the hook. The Royal Tern, unfortunately, had significant damage to the leg and needed admittance to the wildlife hospital for treatment.

In 2021, the medical director at Save Our Seabirds, Dr. Maria Passarelli, reported 108 cases of fishing line entanglements affecting 13 different bird species. So far this year, there have been 34 cases reported affecting nine species. Fishing line, whether monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braided, is not biodegradable: they are all made of plastic. If not properly disposed of it can stay in the environment for hundreds of years. Designed to be thin and invisible to fish, the line is also difficult for birds and other animals to see.

You can help reduce entanglements by avoiding fishing in areas where many birds congregate. Additionally, always dispose of fishing line and tackle properly. In many areas across Florida, monofilament recycling bins are available as a part of the Monofilament Recovery and Recycle Program (MRRP) through FWC. To learn more visit their website at

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