Carelessly discarded monofilament fishing line can present a serious threat to humans and wildlife.
Birds and other wildlife can become entangled, resulting in strangulation, starvation, amputation, and death. Because it's transparent, monofilament fishing line can also present a serious risk to human swimmers and divers who encounter it.
It is thanks to local advocate Bonnie Anderson that action is now being taken on this important issue.
Bonnie became concerned after seeing the dangers of derelict fishing line firsthand in her neighborhood: “Over the years, I witnessed the impact discarded fishing line was having on wildlife and the natural environment. A Mallard and Pied Billed Grebe were found entangled, and an American Coot was strangling and close to drowning when she was ensnared in fishing line.”
Bonnie knew she had to do something to help stop this devastation and began a program to collect the fishing line – constructing, placing, and collecting from bins by her local community lake.
From there, she brought her concern and experience to every State Representative in Washington until Senator Mark Mullet began helping her. Together they wrote the Fishing Line or Monofilament Recycling Pilot Program Bill that went before legislative committees for votes in the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 sessions.
S.B. 5356 (as it was called in the 2014-2015 session) required a pilot program be implemented for the collection, recovery, and recycling of monofilament fishing line at established fishing areas, boat ramps, and other locations.
PAWS has supported Bonnie and her efforts from the beginning. Most recently in 2015, we helped lobby for the bill, provided an expert to testify in front of a legislative committee (our Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. John Huckabee), and spoke in favor of the bill to the Humane Lobby Day audience in Olympia, WA.
In January 2015—following a call out across PAWS' social media asking our followers to support this important bill—we were delighted to learn that S.B. 5356 passed out of the Natural Resources and Parks Committee and progressed to the Ways and Means Committee.
This important bill was one step closer to becoming a reality.
On July 6, 2015, we received a call from Bonnie confirming that the State has approved funding of a fishing line recovery and recycling program for the proper disposal of monofilament fishing line.
This pilot program will be administered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The fishing line bins will be constructed by Puget Sound Corps and installed at recreational fishing locations as determined by WDFW.
This is a step in the right direction for the preservation of our environment and wildlife, as well as public safety.
We thank Bonnie, Senator Mullet, and all the compassionate PAWS supporters who responded to our call for action, for their dedication to this cause!