I’ll preface everything that I’m going to say with the following: while I’m not the biggest fan of fishing as a hobby, I don’t begrudge people that practice it, and I’ve known many fishermen and -women who behave in a respectful way and whose presence is almost certainly a net positive for the sites they frequent. A lot of them have been incredibly friendly, enthusiastic about nature and willing to share their local knowledge.
Most of the spots I go birding are also popular freshwater fishing spots. My area is, for many reasons beyond the scope of this post, not the cleanest. A lot (although not most) of the detritus I find is from people fishing and abandoning food packaging, beer bottles and tobacco buckets. I try to pick up as much as I can (especially when there’s an empty bin less than 5m away…) but my number one worry is something else: discarded fishing lines.
I can understand cases when the line snags and breaks in the distance, on a branch in the water, and there’s little you can do to retrieve it. However, per outing I pick up at least 5 of them that are easily accessible on the shore, tangled in low-lying plants, sometimes dangerously close to nests.
The results for wildlife are devastating (warning, some of the following links are fairly graphic):
Those are only the cases that I could photograph where I’ve directly seen the fishing line. I regularly see birds with injured or missing limbs in a way consistent with that cause. I’ve managed to rescue a few of them and I’ve talked with some people who have done the same. Injured birds regularly fall prey to roaming cats or dogs off their leash. It might not be the biggest threat to wildlife overall, but it seems like such an easily-avoidable one that it angers me to no end.
I will be contacting the local associations for wildlife protection in my area, unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any rescue centre near me. This might actually motivate me to get the driving licence I’ve been putting off for more than 15 years now.
What are some actions you have either taken or seen put in place to help alleviate this problem? If you practice fishing yourself, how do you deal with that issue and how could we make it easier for you?