Jessica Roame walked Balboa Pier admiring the five new receptacles installed recently to help keep discarded fishing lines out of the ocean and harbor and off the beaches in Newport Beach.
The waist-high, pipe-like containers are located on three corners at the end of the pier and along two areas that jut out over the ocean on the left side. They are there to collect old fishing lines and prevent marine mammals and seabird from getting entangled. The project is a collaboration between the city of Newport Beach and Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing, two whale watching and sportfishing charters in Newport’s Fun Zone.
Roame, who leads marine education outreach for the two companies, spearheaded the effort and used her pier walk on Thursday to inform anglers of the importance of recycling the monofilament lines. Some were already aware; others appreciated the information.
Though the lines are thin, they’re powerful and it takes hundreds of years for the material to break down. Roame explained that the filament could entangle marine life and put them at risk of swallowing parts, including hooks, when they are looking for food around piers and jetties.
“It’s such a big problem,” she said, adding that working nearby, she’s seen lines lying on the pier with seabirds picking at the bait that is still attached. “Because it’s clear it seems disposable. I educated fishers about why we’re doing it. A lot of them value conservation because they want to keep fishing.”
The new white containers that look like large exhaust pipes may seem simple, but the process to get them on the pier took some effort. Roame presented her plan to a city commission and then to the City Council, which promptly gave her a thumbs-up. The city agreed to pay for the five receptacles and signage, as long as Roame agreed to collect the fishing line. The receptacles were installed this week.
Newport joins other cities including Huntington Beach, San Clemente, Oceanside and La Jolla as locales with a plan in place to recycle fishing line.
“Keeping used fishing lines out of the ocean and harbor is a major benefit to wildlife, the environment and the boating community,” Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill said. “I fully expect this program will be a great partnership between the city, volunteers and the businesses on the Balboa Pier. This is definitely something we could consider expanding to other popular fishing areas.”
The receptacle project expands Davey’s Locker’s and Newport Landing’s own efforts to recycle monofilament lines. In five years, the sister companies have recycled more than 500 pounds of used fishing line.
With 50 to 60 fishermen on the pier daily, Roame expects to add at least 10 pounds a week to their totals.
Once collected, the line gets mailed to Iowa-based Berkley Fishing, where it is melted down and used to create an artificial reef for lakes in Iowa, to support the local fish populations.
With more people aware, Roame said city officials hope to expand the project to Newport Pier.
But, before that happens, Roame needs more volunteers to help with collected the discarded lines. She said she’s hoping to get local schools and Scout troops involved in the effort, which will also help them earn community service hours.
“Right now, I’m doing it on my own,” she said. “I feel like it will give back in ways I’ll never know and that it will change people’s idea about why recycling is important.”