New fishing line recycling stations have been added around the shores of the St. Lawrence River.
The Thousand Islands Association (TIA) has been installing new fishing line recycling stations in accessible areas for anglers, at a variety of local marinas, boat launches and popular fishing spots to reduce the amount of monofilament fishing line left at local fishing spots and to keep it out of the landfill.
“When fishing line is left in the environment, it can cause a whole host of issues," said Annabel Cowan, environmental ambassador at TIA.
"Birds getting tangled in it or eating it thinking it's food … it can be really dangerous."
Fish, turtles and other aquatic species are at risk of being entangled in the fishing line or mistaking it for food. Soil quality and water can be affected as well as the monofilament breaks down into harmful microplastics.
The goal of the Fishing Line Recycling Station program is to bring awareness to the issues caused by fishing line being left in the environment and the importance of disposing of it correctly.
"Even when it does make it into a landfill, it takes about 600 year to degrade," said Cowan.
She said the monofilament, which is what the fishing line material is made of, isn't recyclable at home.
"You couldn't just put it in your blue bin, so our fishing line stations are really the only way you can actually recycle them."
The fishing line will then be sent to the Berkley Recycling Centre in Iowa to be properly recycled and repurposed. The Iowa recycling centre has the ability to melt down the fishing line and repurpose the old line into new line.
The stations are made of donated PVC pipe and three have already been placed along the river, at Clark's Marina and Houseboat Holidays near Gananoque, and with the newest one in Portsmouth Olympic Harbour in Kingston.
Cowan said by the end of the season they'll have at least five units installed throughout the area.
"We started doing it because (of) the dangers of it, and we talked to the people around the area who had said the fishing line on the shoreline was a bit of an issue," said Cowan, "so we felt like this would be a good place for it given how popular fishing is in this area."
The TIA began working on the fishing line recycling stations in early June, and the first station was installed in the first week of July, but they're hopeful more will be installed in the future. They are also partnering with Save The River, an organization on the American side of the St. Lawrence River, and have given them 10 of the PVC pipe recycling units to set up near their shorelines.
Cowan said the hopes are to install more recycling units in other accessible places by next year, and they are speaking with organizations with property on the river and hardware stores where anglers would shop for line, to install more stations.
"Hopefully it reduces the chance of fishing line being found in the river, on the soil," said Cowan.
Anyone interested in getting involved with the program can reach out to the TIA through its social media platforms or through email at [email protected]
Cowan said that, in the future, they would also love to get PVC donated to the TIA to continue building the units.
Story by Jessica Munro, The Brockville Reporter and Times, for the Local Journalism Initiative