Marion County wildlife officer brings home Florida fishing line recycling idea


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Nickajack Dam: 2

Marion County Park: 2

Bennett Lake fishing pier: 1 (about 1/2 mile off Griffith Highway)

Sullivan’s boat ramp: 1 (U.S. Highway 41)

Raccoon Mountain: 1 (at public fishing area on Tennessee River)

Source: Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency officer Marty Griffith

A Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer in Marion County spied a good idea on a fishing pier in Florida that he thought would benefit the environment, animals and anglers on the county’s piece of the Tennessee River.

When people fish along stream and river banks, they often leave behind discarded fishing line that builds up at some of the fishing hot spots along the river, so TWRA officer Marty Griffith decided to build collection receptacles for discarded line that could otherwise pose a deadly hazard to wildlife.

“When you walk these banks you see fishing line piled up here and there and that bothered me,” the 42-year-old Marion County native said. “My wife and I were on vacation — I think it was Pensacola — and I walked out on one of those fishing piers down there and I noticed they had one, and the more I got to looking I thought, ‘Well, that’s simple and that’s a pretty good idea.”

Griffith came back to the agency office in Tennessee where “they gave me a little money for supplies and the BoatUS Foundation supplied the ‘No trash’ decals and the ‘Recycle’ decals,” he said. BoatUS is an Annapolis, Maryland-based nonprofit organization that promotes boating safety and clean water.

Each receptacle costs about $10 to $15 for materials and it takes only 15 minutes or so to put it together from PVC pipe and hose clamps, he said.

“The first year I put out four just to see if people were using them, and people were using them, so last summer, I put out three more to kind of cover the county good,” Griffith said.

He said he’s been “pleasantly surprised with people using them, and when you clean them out you notice some old line and and you know the line has been on the bank for a while and somebody actually took the time to pick it up and put in there.”

Discarded fishing line poses a danger to wildlife, Griffith said.

“Every year, we get calls about fishing line wrapped around a duck or a goose or a turtle or something like that,” he said.

“I like to say because we’re hunters and fishermen that we’re more interested in the environment and conserving the environment than a lot of other people, but it’s hard for me to argue that when there’s fishing line laying everywhere and worm cans everywhere,” he said. “That kind of drives me crazy sometimes.”

TWRA spokeswoman Mime Barnes said wildlife officers like Griffith demonstrate how much the state agency’s staff loves their work.

“Most officers are very invested in their county and where they live,” she said. “Our employees are very frugal and caring and they’re innovative, and they’re continually looking for ways to make improvements.”

Barnes noted that Griffith didn’t just build the receptacles, he dedicates time to maintaining them and sending off the recovered fishing line for recycling.

Fishing tackle manufacturer Berkley recycles the line Griffith sends to it and any type of line that can’t be recycled is cut up for disposal, Griffith said. The recycled line is converted into fish attractors, he said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at

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