Seeing gulls or pelicans with fishing hooks in their mouths or fishing line wrapped around their legs is an all too common sight on California beaches. Thanks to a new UC Davis project, these types of injuries soon should be reduced.
This week, the California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project (formerly called the California Derelict Fishing Gear Removal Project) launched a yearlong effort to remove discarded fishing hooks and line from pier pilings, and establish fishing-line recycling stations on the piers, in an effort to make the coastal ocean safer for wildlife as well as people.
"Fishing-line-related injuries are a problem for many of our coastal wildlife species," said Kirsten Gilardi, executive director of the SeaDoc Society, a program of the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center.
From Santa Cruz to the Mexican border, trained volunteer scuba divers will use knives and shears to remove accumulated fishing line from the pilings at 16 public-access fishing piers. Working in cooperation with the cities and ports that manage the piers and with local nonprofit organizations, SeaDoc will install custom bins at each pier -- hoping anglers discard their unwanted hooks and line in the bins instead of in the water. Collected monofilament will be recycled.
To date, working closely with commercial fishermen, the California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project has retrieved nearly 10 tons of fishing gear from around the Channel Islands. The pier cleanups represent the project's first efforts taking place on the mainland.