Port Colborne man starts program to clean up discarded fishing line


Published August 10, 2021 at 6:41 pm


An avid Port Colborne fisherman and environmental activist has launched a joint campaign with local business Sugarloaf Marina and the city’s H.H. Knoll Lakeview Park to allow for easy recycling of used fishing line.

The campaign, started up by Port Colborne resident Mike Cooper, is called ‘Clear Your Gear’ and it aims to prevent improperly discarded fishing line that could potentially cause entanglement concerns for people, boats, and wildlife.

“We all have a role to play in keeping this waterfront community clean and safe for wildlife,” said Cooper. “This was a collaborative effort by many organizations, including (the) Clear Your Gear (initiative), Bass Pro, Cabela’s Canada, local volunteers and City of Port Colborne staff. I’m so thankful the City recognized the importance of ‘Clear Your Gear’ and moved forward with this initiative.”

Cooper added that with a little help from volunteers and City staff, four canisters have been strategically placed at Sugarloaf Marina, the public boat ramp and H.H. Knoll Lakeview Park to allow for easy recycling of used fishing line.

The goal is to collect and recycle used fishing line by providing canisters throughout marinas and boat docks to prevent fish, shorebirds, water wildlife, scuba divers and boat propellers from getting tangled in it.

When fishing line is disposed of in one of the ‘Clear Your Gear’ canisters, it is cleaned of hooks, leaders, weights, and trash and then shipped to Berkley Conservation Institute located in North Carolina.

Once there, the fishing line is melted down into raw plastic pellets and made into other products such as tackle boxes, spools, and fish habitats.

As soon as Mark Minor, Sugarloaf Marina supervisor, heard the idea, he was on board.

“We’re committed to finding ways to be more environmentally friendly,” said Minor. “There was absolutely no hesitation when Mike approached us about this idea; we immediately jumped on board.”

“Now that the recycling units are available, we can begin to promote this in the community and do our part to keep used fishing lines out of waterways to prevent wildlife entanglement.”

Minor added that Marina staff are consistently finding used fishing lines around the boat launch, harbour and park.

Beginning this summer, public education and communication will start on the City’s website, encouraging fishermen to be mindful of where they discard used fishing line and encouraging them to use the ‘Clear Your Gear’ recycling canisters.

For more information on the ‘Clear Your Gear’ initiative, please visit www.clearyourgear.ca

(Photo of Mike Cooper and Mark Minor beside a ‘Clear Your Gear’ recycling canister courtesy of Port Colborne)

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