Fishing Line Collection and Recycling Program

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Protecting Wildlife in Jamaica Bay

The Jamaica Bay and Rockaway watershed area (“JB/R area”) contains many popular recreational fishing areas, boat clubs, surf clubs, kayaking programs and swimming areas and is also inhabited by an abundant array of wildlife. Whales, dolphins, seals and over 330 species of birds have been recorded in the JB/R area.  Jamaica Bay supports seasonal and year-round populations of more than 200 species of special concern, including federally endangered and threatened wildlife. These species include the loggerhead turtle, (Caretta caretta) the rufa red knot, (Caladris canutus rufa), and the piping plover (Charadrius melodus).  In addition, Jamaica Bay is also included on the National Audubon Society's list of globally significant Important Bird Areas.

Improperly discarded fishing line is one of the most damaging items of plastic marine debris and causes harm to humans and animals alike.  Monofilament line, often invisible, can ensnare swimmers and divers and foul the engines of recreational boats.  It also endangers the lives of marine animals and birds by maiming them or causing them to drown or slowly starve to death.  Birds and other wildlife have become entangled in fishing line in the JB/R area and although in several cases these animals were freed, in most cases, they unfortunately succumb to the entanglement.

Prior to 2018, a limited amount of fishing line recycling bins (“bins”) existed at sites around the JB/R area. The number of bins in the JB/R area was inadequate and existing bins were not being emptied in a timely manner, if at all, which rendered the bins ineffective in fulfilling their intended purposes of preventing plastic fishing line from being discharged to the surface waters.

A Partnership with the American Littoral Society Northeast Chapter

Starting in 2018, the JBRPC partnered with the American Littoral Society Northeast Chapter (ALS) to repair existing fishing line recycling bins and greatly increase the number of bins throughout Jamaica Bay, in both Brooklyn and Queens, and begin regular collection of the bins. This work was implemented with the support of the National Park Service and NYC Parks, and the program is managed by Lisa Scheppke of the ALS.

 Newly assembled recycling bins.

Newly assembled recycling bins.

Bins are assembled on an as-needed basis and each bin is monitored regularly. Collected fishing line is sorted, cleaned and sent to a recycling facility.

 Fishing line collected in early Summer 2018.

Fishing line collected in early Summer 2018.

Education is the Key to Protecting Our Waterways

Public awareness of the problems caused by improperly discarded fishing line is needed.  ALS and JBRPC engage fishermen in person at various fishing sites to educate them about the importance of properly disposing fishing line.

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We need your help!

This important program protects wildlife and our fragile environment in Jamaica Bay, and we can’t do it alone. Help is needed by volunteers in the community who share our goals of a cleaner Bay. We need volunteers to help us collect fishing line, ambassadors to help educate fisherman about the importance of the bins and monetary donations to help us maintain existing bins, install new bins and continue this program over the next few years. Please consider donating online by clicking here to this important cause and contact us at info@jbrpc.org if you would like more information on how to get involved.