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Conservation | The Greener Side of Boating

Here are a few tips to practice clean boating by Mercury's Musky Mike

On the Water Be Inspired
Conservation | The Greener Side of Boating

Appropriate management of our precious waterways (oceans, lakes, and rivers) for recreational fishermen and boaters is necessary for the conservation and protection of marine fisheries, wildlife populations, and resource sustainability.  Scientific understanding of fish behavior, lake and marine ecology, and development of education programs for those in the public sector engaged in recreational outdoor activities have increased substantially since the 1990s. With an increasing population, particularly amongst those who engage in spending their free time enjoying the water, there comes a question on what to do when it comes to waste management. Accumulation of waste comes in multiple forms. Disposal of waste into our waterways is one of the biggest threats to fish and wildlife populations. The objective of this conservation article by Mercury Marine is to list current examples of waste in conjunction with solutions to strategically execute to minimize impact to freshwater and marine environments.

Used Fishing Line

Fishing line comes in all forms and types (monofilament, Dacron, braided, and fluorocarbon) that anglers utilize in their sport fishing adventures. Each line type exhibits specific properties that allow it to be used under a variety of water and environmental conditions. A further decision on the type of line to use on our reels also is dependent on the species of gamefish we are seeking to target. As important as fishing line is as a general tackle requirement, the mentioning of line being harmful to the environment seems to be not discussed in any peer-reviewed journal article, online discussion forums, or in general conversation. Despite little literature on the emphasis on the environmental hazards of disposed fishing line in fact, inflicts multiple types of ecological damage. Fishing lines regardless of the type has a high tendency to knot and ball up like loose balls of string and removing knots is a timeless, dauntless task. Knotted fishing line typically ends up tangling up around the feet of waterfowl and migratory birds. Species of ducks, pheasants, eagles, cranes, and geese use rivers and lakes like highways for migrating, foraging, and mating purposes. As waterfowl swim upstream and downstream in rivers or lakes, their feet entangle around the line. Episodic bursts of fast kicking motion to free themselves generally result in the line tightening around their feet and in some scenarios their wings which sadly results in their demise as they cannot physically move anymore. Always take unwanted or unusable fishing line and tie into one thick knot and store in an appropriate place such inside a backpack, tackle box, or ziplock bag until your vessel is docked. Many harbors and boat launches have public trash cans where fishing line can be properly and environmentally disposed of. Since monofilament fishing line is not biodegradable, another solution is to discard fishing line at tackle shops because most of them contain recycling bins. An additional solution is to take old line of any kind regardless of its age and condition and mail it to the Berkley Recycling Center located in Iowa. Berkley has a long history of promoting and facilitating fishing line recycling and is in the developing works of leading this effort on a global level. The program is currently expanding to more states nationwide and thoroughly practiced and preached by federal agencies. Since 1990, it is estimated that 9 million miles worth of fishing line has been recycled which is approximately equivalent enough to fill up two reels for every angler in the United States.

  • Building Custom-made Monofilament Recycling Center – Although monofilament and other types of fishing line can be recycled, a little sense of creation is often necessary to create recycling stations. Custom-made monofilament recycling stations can be constructed out a hands worth of materials. Materials to use include 2 ft section of 6 inch PVC pipe, PVC Elbow, PVC Female Threaded Adapter, PVC Threaded Plug, adhesive, and decals. A thorough step-by-step process for developing a monofilament recycling center is broken down on the Boat U.S. Foundation website which is www.boatus.org

Plastic Bottles

 One of the largest anthropogenic threats to the oceans of our world is the amount of free-floating plastic bottles on the surface of the world's oceans. Although considered a recyclable material, many water and soda bottles mistakenly fall over the gunwales of boats and into the ocean. Non-profit organization Plastic Oceans  International estimates that 8 million tons of plastic are dumped annually into our world's oceans. With an approximate 300 million tons of production of indestructible plastic each year, over 50% of the total amount produced is designated for single-use, yet can remain for hundreds of years. Recent studies conducted by the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service and National Oceanic Air Administration (NOAA) determined that 90% of all marine seabirds contained some form of plastic in their stomachs. Other marine life get entangled or consume the plastic trash thus resulting in deformed physical bodies, impaired swimming mobility, and sadly death. Environmental solutions for plastic bottles is rather quite simple. As easy they are to discard into the trash, plastic water bottles for example, can be reused time and time again. Plastic bottles can be washed out at home and reused multiple times as water bottles and this saves money financially since most water nowadays available for sale isn’t cheap compared to in the past. An additional environmental friendly solution to reduce your global footprint on the world's oceans is to recycle them. Plastic is one of those materials that is definitely recyclable and reusable.  Many non-profit organizations focused on reversing the trend of plastic contamination are always taking donations that assist in funding scientific research, development of education programs, and formulating personnel to clean up plastic in the ocean.

Waste Management Plan 

The proper establishment of a waste management plan is highly necessary and lawfully required onboard vessels 40 feet in length or greater. Well-detailed explanations of waste management plans are certainly acceptable, but a simple organized well-stated one-paragraph statement will suffice. Required information to be included in the plan is (1) vessel name, (2) person in charge, (3) solid waste management procedures, (4) crew education, and (5) captain’s signature. Examples of waste management plans are included on the Boat U.S. Foundation’s website.

This year's National Recycling Day was November 15th, please remember to spread the word about the importance of recycling and encourage those to spread its benefits for the environment and to practice recycling themselves. Research locations in your local area in order to find a recycling program near you so that you can recycle the trash instead of dumping it into another landfill which may eventually end up in the ocean. Additionally, educate your fellow anglers about strategies on how to make a significant difference on every boating expedition by taking the steps listed in this article to be a greener boater. Although not covered herein, other supplemental topics such as spill scenarios, trash and marine debris, waterway clean up guide, and find a clean marina are highlighted on the Boat U.S. Foundation webpage. Essentially, the Internet is a powerful research aid and can be fully used to your distinct advantage to look up information on how to become a greener recreational boater. The world's oceans are a special ecosystem that everyone dreams of visiting in their lifetime and it is our sole obligation as caretakers of planet Earth to protect and conserve its precious value. It is a highly significant and unique ecosystem depended on not only by us for enjoyment, but used every day by countless species of marine seabirds, fishes, mammals, and other marine life.

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