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Recycling stations for fishing line established

May 31, 2013 at 06:30 AM

The State Journal-Register

Monofilament fishing line is strong and light, perfect for helping anglers reel in fish after fish.

The same properties that make it so effective can make it dangerous for birds and other wildlife if discarded improperly.

Mikel Ollech of Springfield wants to make it easier for anglers to do the right thing.

He is working with City, Water, Light and Power to install fishing line recycling stations at boat ramps around Lake Springfield. The first one already is in use at the Lindsay Bridge Boat Ramp.

Ollech grew up around Lake Springfield, boating and fishing.

“Since I was 4 years old, I have spent every moment I can by the lake or out on the lake,” he said.

He learned about the recycling of fishing line while he was a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

“I did a school project at SIUE to see how fishing line was made from start to finish,” Ollech said. “Through that we had to see its affects on the environment, the carbon footprint of the whole process. And through that, I found that you can recycle it, which will reduce its waste at the end.”

Ollech built a model to show CWLP, and utility officials were so enthusiastic, they offered to buy the materials needed to build five more.

“Boat US has donated six signs to attract people to the bins and let them know what the bin is for,” Ollech said.
“Boat US also provided decals to place on the bins.”

“I will be the one to go around and check the bins, and I will collect the line personally and send it away to the company Berkley, and they will recycle it,” he said.

Berkley, a fishing tackle company in Spirit Lake, Iowa, has been recycling line since 1990.

The company says there are now 17,000 recycling collection bins spread around the country.

So far more than nine million miles of line has been collected.

“It’s all different formulations and different brands – it’s not just our line,” said Jim Martin, conservation director for Berkley. “We can’t turn it into line again, so we turn it into benches and fish habitats and other things.”

The monofilament line is mixed with other recyclable plastics to create fish habitat structures that can be placed under docks.

“They snap together into a crate-like structure,” Martin said. “People like to zip-tie them together to create a complex structure to place near their docks to attract fish and food for fish.”

The program started out to get a partnership with retailers that offered line re-spooling stations for anglers that were replacing fishing line on their reels.

The old line was then sent off back to Berkley.

Martin said that since then, litter pickup has become major part of the project. Volunteer groups, scouts, and others have picked up the responsibility of emptying the receptacles and sending line in for recycling.

“Most of our line now comes from them,” he said. “It’s been just wonderful.”

Effects on birds

David Bohlen, assistant curator of zoology at the Illinois State Museum, has been surveying birds in Sangamon County for 40 years.

He said birds injured or killed by discarded line probably are undercounted because the bird must be found by a person to be counted.

Over the years, Bohlen has seen some gruesome scenes.

“I got a picture of a robin (tangled in fishing line) hanging from a tree,” he said. “How many do you actually find? That’s a hard thing to see. The robin was hanging right there by the parking lot at (a golf course).”

Bohlen said he knows that fishing line snagged in the water or elsewhere out of reach cannot be easily retrieved.

“I think a lot of times guys are casting and the line gets caught in a tree,” he said. “And they cut it because they can’t reach it.”

But he said he welcomes efforts to properly dispose of as much line as possible.

“That’s a good idea. It’s worthwhile,” Bohlen said.

Chris Young can be reached at 788-1528 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow him at

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