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Reel In and Recycle: New fishing line recycling program is launched in QAC

Updated: May 28, 2021


In October 2020, a Plastic Free QAC socially distanced clean-up at the Chesapeake Heritage Center in Piney Narrows yielded unusually large amounts of fishing line found loose on the ground and tangled in the moorings and decking of the fishing area. A closer look revealed long strands of line buried in the dirt. Concerned by the amount we collected that day, we called QAC Parks and Recreation Public Landings Supervisor, James Wood, as our first step forward in developing a fishing line recycling program for Queen Anne’s County.

When monofilament is disposed of improperly it can be hazardous to marine life, birds, boat propellers, and more. Plus, it takes 600 years to decompose! Even when put in the trash, the fishing lines can end up harming and entangling wildlife at landfills.

Eight months later, 15 new PCV recycling tubes with signage are now installed at eight fishing and boat landing areas. These receptacles are regularly emptied and the fishing line is placed in pre-paid boxes then returned to Berkley Fishing, located in Spirit Lake, Iowa. Berkley was among the first producers of monofilament over 60 years ago. Since 1990, their fishing line recycling program has kept over "9 million MILES of fishing line out of landfills," and the program continues to grow each year!

Berkley also provides the county with free recycling displays. Each display includes the same pre-paid return recycling box, where anglers can drop off their line and repairmen can deposit their old re-spooling lines, instead of tossing them in the trash. It's important to note that Berkley accepts ALL kinds of fishing lines, not just monofilament, as well as empty plastic spools. As of this month, PFQAC has distributed the attractive Berkley recycling box displays to six tackle stores and one marina (see list of stores below).

While recycling fishing lines is nothing new to QAC, without a place to send the line in recent years, the program remained inoperative. Together with the QAC Boat Landings Division, and Berkley Recycling, PFQAC has worked to help launch this new user-friendly program in our county. In the process, we’ve had the opportunity to speak with multiple store owners, head boat captains, marina managers, and anglers, and the response to this new program has been overwhelmingly positive.

While we’re extremely grateful to everyone who has agreed to participate in this recycling program, there are a few key people we’d like to shine a light on for their willingness to take the call to action and “Reel In and Recycle."

Our first spotlight goes to Captain Montro Wright and his boat the “Shirley III” at Kent Narrows. Captain Wright is an iconic waterman who’s been working on the water for over 64 years! Born and raised in Grasonville, in-season his charters run 5-6 days a week with many loyal and returning customers. His son Lamont also has his own charter boat “Off Da’Hook”. Both have their crews re-spooling rods in the winter, and as needed during the season. Stars go to Captain Wright and his son Lamont Wright as our first Head Boatmen to enthusiastically join the QAC “Reel In and Recycle” program. We applaud their willingness to be the first head boatmen to adopt recycling, plus their intergenerational commitment to keeping the family charter boat business going strong for years to come.

Our Second spotlight goes to Dave Tolbert and his family at “Island Tackle” located next to Safeway, 1915 Main St. Chester, MD. His store opened in 2014. Turns out they’ve been using the Berkley recycling program since the beginning when the store opened! During their 7 years in business, they’ve re-spooled “millions of yards of fishing line” AND it’s all gone back to Berkley! In addition, Island Tackle recycles spools to Berkley. Dave and his family receive multiple stars for leading the way and setting an impressive example for other tackle store owners to follow! Thanks, Dave and Island Tackle for your ongoing commitment to recycling, for boxing it up instead of throwing it out!

Our third spotlight goes to “Shore Tackle and Custom Rods”, owned by Bill O’Brien and his wife. A small blue building located in the parking lot near Fisherman’s Crab Deck, 3100 Main Street, Grasonville. Bill’s core business is custom rods, service work for charters, and re-spooling. While he does re-spool for on-dock fishing, the bulk of his work is for offshore charters. On the day we spoke, he was re-spooling over 6,000 yards of fishing line for 10 offshore fishing rods, PLUS 4 smaller spools, and that’s just in ONE DAY! On average, an on-dock fishing rod uses 100 yards of fishing line, while an off-shore charter rod will take anywhere from 5-800 yards per rod! In addition, the rods used for high-priced fishing tournaments are re-spooled every day of the tournament! Again, on average, that’s 5-800 yards per rod per day!

Our final June spotlight goes to Bill and his co-worker Mark Glassco, also Captain of “Tuna the Tide” charter boat, for stepping up to recycle what we figure to be the largest amount of fishing line re-spooled annually in our area. Stars to Bill and Mark for your willingness to box it up, rather than throw it out, and for your willingness to keep those huge amounts of fishing line out of harm's way.

So, Anglers, what can YOU do?? Fish responsibly and dispose of ALL fishing lines, not just monofilament, at any of the below locations!

**Stay tuned via Facebook for more information on our “Reel In and Recycle” kick-off ceremony: June 20, 3:30 p.m. at Wells Cove Marina, near Bridges Restaurant in Grasonville

Note: for more information on the fishing line recycling program, visit search/select “Public Landings.”

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