Monday, December 19, 2011

Fishing Line and Birds

At one time or another, we have probably all seen a bird hampered by fishing line, with the line wrapped around its legs or tangled elsewhere on its body. This is a widespread problem, especially since plastics line fishing line persist in the environment.

The problem is not new — or limited to Prospect Park. Birders in other city and state parks report similar cases. The Ocean Conservancy in Washington points out that monofilament fishing line, which is made from an individual fiber of plastic, has been in use since World War II, and as the decades pass, it has accumulated in the water and on land. For a quarter-century, the conservancy has organized coastal cleanups throughout the world on a single day in September. Over that time, 1,340,114 pieces of discarded fishing line have been collected, according to the group.

“Plastics in general are the most persistent forms of marine debris,” said Nicholas Mallos, a conservation biologist with the conservancy. “Once monofilament line becomes loose in the marine environment, it poses a serious threat.”

Birding groups and wildlife experts say that most fishermen and women are quite likely unaware of the impact on wildlife. The solution, they contend, is more education, as well as the availability of secure receptacles for old fishing line and hooks. Open trash cans easily overflow, they say, and the wind blows the line away.