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Clear Your Gear

Clear Your Gear

Volunteers representing the Mono-filament Busters conservation group recently oversaw the installation of five new mono-filament fishing line recycling stations, expanding the scope of the islands’ three-year-old “Clear Your Gear” campaign.

Clear Your Gear, a collaborative effort among Sanibel and Captiva conservation organizations, aims to reduce the amount of mono-filament line and fishing gear left in our environment, which is very often detrimental to wildlife.

Bird, reptiles, raccoons and other critters either get caught in the mono-filament line or mistake the fishing line for food. If ingested, the line (and any attached hooks) can prove to be fatal for those animals.

The five new Clear Your Gear stations — at Bowman’s Beach main beach access, Bowman’s Beach kayak launch, Clam Bayou box culvert, Blind Pass, and City Boat Ramp — join 18 other Clear Your Gear mono-filament recycling stations, including 12 along the Sanibel Causeway, seven throughout the “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and one at the Sanibel Fishing Pier.

The effort was established in 2013 by seven Sanibel-Captiva conservation organizations in response to the observation of ongoing environmental problems and an increase in wildlife injuries caused by mono-filament line and other fishing gear. Currently, participants include the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), Sanibel Sea School, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, the “Ding” Darling Mono-filament Busters, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) and the City of Sanibel’s Natural Resources Department.

“For many years, the JN ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge conducted seasonal cleanups of abandoned fishing gear from their mangroves. As the amount of derelict gear increased, the cleanups became weekly, year-round,” said volunteer Claudia Burns. “As time went by, it became apparent that the quantity of fishing tackle tangled in mangroves was increasing, as was the number of birds, reptiles and mammals entangled, injured and killed by the abandoned gear.”

Burns noted that in addition to the verbal information depicted on the Clear Your Gear signs, a QR code – giving mobile device users more details about the campaign – provides an additional benefit. “You can get a lot of information by using the code… if only one person uses it, it’ll be worth it,” she added.

For more information — and to find out how you can help — click here.

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