Monofilament and Lead Recycling Initiative

A new fishing line recycling initiative is underway on Lake Champlain that will help keep monofilament line and small lead sinkers out of the ecosystem. The Lake Champlain Chapter of Trout Unlimited has combined forces with LakeChamplainAngler,com and the Berkley Pure Fishing Company in a pilot program to establish monofilament and lead recycling stations or “bins” at strategic fishing locations on Lake Champlain and its tributaries. These bins are assisting fishermen with the long term stewardship of Lake Champlain.

It is important to keep discarded fishing line and newly banned lead sinkers out of the environment. Monofilament line is thin, nearly invisible, strong,, and may stay in Lake Champlain for as long as 600 years! Earlier this summer the problem was highlighted by local media when a great blue heron was discovered entangled in discarded line. The line poses a threat to many other types of wildlife as well. Mammals, reptiles, and even fish can become entangled leading to injury, disfigurement, drowning, strangulation, or starvation. Discarded line can also impact boats and humans. People can be caught by hooks hidden on discarded line. The line can also be hazardous to scuba divers. Boat propellers are frequently fouled with monofilament line. Once entangled, a prop may seize up. Line can enter bilge pumps, water intake valves, or wrap around the lower unit causing damage. Small lead sinkers pose their own set of problems much like monofilament. The lead can be ingested by waterfowl and fish causing illness and death.

Recycling stations or bins are made of 4 inch PVC and are being mounted on trees and posts at selected boat ramps, marinas, and fishing sites. Signs on the bins alert anglers to the recycling efforts. Monofilament and lead will be collected from the bins on a regular basis and then cleaned and sorted by volunteers. Retailers are offered a chance to participate with cardboard bins, provided by Berkley, that are designed for their stores or outlets. The gathered line will then be shipped to the Berkley Pure Fishing Company in Iowa. Berkley melts the line down into raw plastic pellets that can be made into other plastic products such as the Berkley Fish Hab, an innovation that provides artificial structure in fish habitats. Other products include tackle boxes, spools for line, and toys. Any lead sinkers recovered will be recycled locally.

Expansion of the project is expected and will require groups or individuals to “adopt” a monofilament recycling station. This would involve the simple monitoring of a bin and would be a great project for scouts, 4-H groups, school clubs or service oriented organizations. The recycling program benefits all residents of the Champlain Valley who appreciate wildlife and a clean environment.

Suggestions for bin locations are encouraged. Interested retailers and groups or individuals wishing to volunteer should contact Mickey Maynard at (518) 563-5998 or email him at Please include the words “Lake Champlain” in the subject line.

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