Bonita Springs – Monofilament lines, more commonly known as fishing lines, have plagued the waters of Bonita Springs and Southwest Florida for years.
When a fishing line becomes tangled, the simplest option is to cut it. But what happens when a line sits in the water? It doesn’t just disintegrate. It becomes entangled in the mangroves, creating a danger to birds and fish. It can drown birds, prevent fish from utilizing their gills properly and even become so ensnared on a bird’s beak that they starve to death.
Since the Imperial River Conservancy was formed in 1991, their mission has been to keep the waters in and around Bonita Springs not only beautiful and environmentally safe for birds and other wildlife, but also enjoyable for boaters and recreational users.
Back in 2009, Richard Ferreira, former boat captain and city councilman, wanted to implement a system that would help recycle monofilament lines in Bonita Springs. With the express support of then-city manager Gary Price, the project was started. Originally, it was a city venture, with Bonita Springs Utilities at the helm designing the unique structures – simple PVC pipes. Fisherman could drop their used monofilament lines into them for later pickup by a collector. The same year, the system was enthusiastically adopted by the Imperial River Conservancy.
Kathy McGrath, longtime member of the Imperial River Conservancy, says the system is very successful.
“We send all of our monofilament to Pure Fishing, Inc., and in turn the used line is made into something else that fishermen can use again, which is so great,” McGrath said.
According to Going Coastal, a program that started the same monofilament recycling process in New York Harbor, it takes monofilament lines around 600 years to disintegrate naturally. IRC members say that is too long.
Ryan Willoughby, current Imperial River Conservancy president, joins McGrath once a month and helps her empty the bins.
“Sometimes we find pretty interesting stuff,” he says, laughing with his son, Christopher, and Christopher’s friend Casey Feist as they empty the collection bin at Fish Trap Marina. “The Imperial boat ramp is always an interesting spot. A lot of people there throw trash in the bin, even though it says ‘No Garbage’ on the sign.”
Monofilament signs can be found at eight key spots around Bonita Springs: Bonita Bay, the Imperial River Boat Ramp, Fish Trap Marina, Bay Water Boat Rentals, Hickory Boulevard Boat Rentals & Resort, Big Hickory Fishing Nook, Carl Johnson State Park and there is soon to be one at River Park behind K-Mart.