Fishing Line Recycling Program Coming to Balboa Pier

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People fish off of Balboa Pier in Newport Beach. On Tuesday, the Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission approved a fishing line (monofilament) recycling program for the pier.
— Photo: Wikimedia

Fishing off Balboa Pier will soon be “greener and cleaner” by implementing a fishing line recycling program following a Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission decision this week.

Commissioners voted 6-0 (Kate Malouf was absent) on Tuesday to support an agreement with Newport Landing and Davey’s Locker Sportfishing & Whale Watching. If City Council also approves the item, the Newport Beach-based company will sponsor, construct, and maintain at least five fishing line (monofilament) recycling containers on Balboa Pier.

Marine Education Program Manager Jessica Roame made the presentation to the Commission.

“Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing are really vested in giving back to the community,” and are ready to take this project on, Roame said. “It’s kind of a win-win.”

They are happy to help create a “greener and cleaner” city, she added after the meeting, while also educating the public about fishing line recycling.

The proposal is to erect at least five, three-foot, six-inch PVC fishing line containers, along with signage, at approved fishing locations on Balboa Pier.

A fishing line (monofilament) recycling container, similar to what is proposed for Balboa Pier.
— Photo courtesy CA Division of Boating and Waterways

Sites were chosen based on the amount of fishing done in those areas, Roame explained.

Parts to construct the containers cost approximately $45 at the local hardware store, which Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing will cover, Roame confirmed.

Installation will be conducted by city crews. Volunteers will check the containers weekly for recycling content and inspect monthly for any long-term maintenance.

Commissioners unanimously supported the program, with several expressing a desire to expand it to Newport Pier and other locations on the oceanfront.

“I don’t know why we didn’t do this 30 or 40 years ago,” Commissioner Walt Howald commented.

Commissioner Heather Ignatin said it was commendable that the business is spearheading the project at no cost to the city.

“This is a pretty significant problem,” Ignatin said. “We’re grateful that you are hoping to solve it.”

Newport Beach doesn’t currently have any similar kind of program in place, Deputy Public Works Director Micah Martin confirmed.

The city will oversee the program and monitor its success, he added. If it’s successful, they can look into possibly extending the program, possibly to Newport Pier or elsewhere, he added.

The collected fishing line will be shipped (free of charge) to Berkley Fishing Inc. The Iowa-based company will repurpose the collected monofilament, melting it down to construct fish habitats for lakes to help promote healthy fish populations. Other companies can purchase the structures, which are essentially artificial reefs, Roame explained.

Roame answered a common question: Why should people care? There are trash cans everywhere.

While they hope those containers are used, the best-case scenario, if that the line ends up in the trash can and not on the ground or in the ocean, it will sit in the landfill for about 600 years before breaking down, significantly longer than plastic bottles or aluminum cans.

Monofilament is made from a durable plastic that works great for hook and line/sustainable fishing and catching food, but the downside is that it can create a terrible waste problem for landfills, Roame explained.

Proposed locations for the fishing line (monofilament) recycling containers on the Balboa Pier.
— Photo courtesy Davey’s Locker/Newport Landing

“Even though it’s not a very heavy material, it can be very destructive,” Roame said.

It can impact both wildlife and waterways.

It also poses a danger for various sea life, she added. Pacific Marine Mammal Care Center in Laguna Beach recently helped an injured sea lion who was entangled in fishing gear. The pinniped is currently recouping at PMMC and will hopefully be returned to the ocean soon.

Monofilament recycling containers align with the California Ocean Leader Strategy for 2025, so Newport Beach can be ahead of the game, Roame pointed out.

This program is actually a nationwide effort to reduce monofilament from landfills. Similar containers have already been placed on piers in Huntington Beach and San Clemente.

In California, this program is primarily led by Ocean Protection Council. The OPC has contributed to implementing 290 monofilament recycling stations across the state and has recycled more than 1,846 pounds of recycled line (stretched out, that would reach from San Francisco to Panama).

“I’m so thrilled about this,” Roame said after the meeting. “It’s been a long time planning it, and to see it actually being approved (is exciting). It’s going to be really exciting once we get them on the pier.”

She hopes to get them constructed within a few weeks and installed a month or two.

“It’s going to be fast-tracked,” she said. “Sooner rather than later.”

People interested in collecting or helping maintain the program can contact Roame at [email protected] or (949) 675-0551 x118.

People fish off of Balboa Pier.
— Photo: Wikimedia
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