Monofilament Education & Recovery
What is monofilament?
Monofilament is fishing line (sometimes called mono) that is made from a single fiber of plastic, as opposed to braided fishing line constructed from multiple fibers of material. Most fishing lines are now monofilament because monofilament fibers are cheap to produce and are produced in a range of diameters which have different tensile strengths (called "tests" after the process of tensile testing). Monofilament line is also manufactured in different colors, such as clear, white, green, blue, red, and fluorescent.
How much monofilament is in the water?
According to World Wildlife Fund there is between 500,000 to 1 million tons of fishing gear – discarded nets, lines, ropes – discarded or lost in the ocean every single year, accounting for 10% of the debris in the sea. Fishing gear makes up almost half of the trash inside of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Why is monofilament dangerous?
Discarded monofilament lines can present serious environmental problems. These lines are extremely difficult to spot when submerged in water, and fish, birds, and other marine life can easily become entangled, causing starvation, amputation, and death. Ingestion is also a serious threat to wildlife. Alexis Rudd discusses the monofilament and ghost fishing gear issue in a blog. It is especially dangerous to marine mammals, shore birds, sea turtles or sharks due to its strength, durability, and invisibility – ocean animals are unable to break free or avoid monofilament. It impacts coastal ecosystems, such as coral reefs and mangrove forests, by tangling itself within these environments, disturbing the animals within it and the ocean floor. The breakdown of lines, especially in string trimmers, leads to microplastics which may cause starvation or poisoning of organisms in soil or water. Monofilament lines also present a risk to swimmers and scuba divers.
The Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee states that monofilament is a particular threat to shore birds due to accidental ingestion, whether through litter on the shore or through ingestion of fish that have broken a line. This leads to starvation and eventually, death.
Why are mangroves important?
Mangroves are a vital habitat in Florida as explained by Nature Conservancy. They prevent coastline erosion, absorb impacts from storm surges during hurricanes, and filter pollutants from our waters. Mangrove roots provide important nursery habitats for juvenile fish species that will go on to supply our commercial fish stocks. Mangrove forests also provide a beautiful recreational experience, whether through kayaking, birding, or fishing.
What can you do to help?
Always make sure you dispose of monofilament properly. When you are fishing put the monofilament that you plan to discard in a sealed container so it does not end up as marine debris. Should your line get snagged try to remove it by tugging at different angles before cutting or snapping the line. Keep Pasco Beautiful has monofilament collection tubes that it maintains Pasco County. These locations along with other tubes can be found on the map below.
Some organizations recycle monofilament by sending it to facilities such as Berkley Recycling in Iowa. Pasco County has an Energy from Waste facility in Spring Hill that is operated by Covanta Pasco. We partnered with Covanta Pasco and Pasco County Environmental to bring the monofilament directly to the facility to ensure that it was properly disposed of. By processing the monofilament locally we are able to lower the carbon footprint of the program.