“Pitch It” to Save Fish and Wildlife
By Bob Wattendorf (Originally appeared in Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s “Fish Busters’ Bulletin,” September 04, 2015)
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is taking a leadership role by working with the American Sportfishing Association’s “Pitch It” campaign. This voluntary program encourages anglers across the country to dispose of their soft plastic lures properly as concerns about these lures accumulating in public waters are increasing.
The KeepAmericaFishing program is ASA’s angler advocacy campaign. They launched the new Pitch It campaign earlier this year in response to proposed legislation in Maine and concern that soft baits discarded in public waters could hurt fish populations. The ASA has stated that years of laboratory tests show that most fish regurgitate or pass soft baits without harm.
Although population level effects of ingesting discarded lures are not evident or likely, individual fish may occasionally be impacted. More importantly though lures, fishing lines, bait cups and other man-made materials do not belong in our natural ecosystems and should always be disposed of properly.
Ethical anglers who care about our natural resources and sustaining their sport for future generations should routinely dispose of any man-made and unneeded materials in appropriate receptacles. Most of us go a step further and try to set an example by also picking up trash and, especially, monofilament fishing line whenever we can.
While other environmental factors may also impact fisheries habitat, litter is a prominent eyesore and potential threat. As a result, the FWC is pleased to support the ASA and KeepAmericaFishing’s new Pitch It campaign by helping educate anglers on proper disposal methods to drive positive change.
“The Pitch It campaign has gone nationwide and the current focus is angler education,” said KeepAmericaFishing Director Liz Ogilvie. “We would like to extend the campaign beyond soft plastic baits to address trash of any type littering our nation’s waterways.”
The Pitch It message is simple and straightforward. First, if possible, place soft plastic lures in a dedicated recycle bin. Second, if not, consider recycling them with your home trash, but check in advance to see if your local waste management provider accepts them (many do not at this time). Third, dispose of them with other litter in a normal trash receptacle. Anglers can sign the pledge at pledgetopitchit.org.
The Pitch It website at KeepAmericaFishing.org is a good educational tool and is becoming a directory for recycling programs across the country.
“We are hearing about local tackle shops, clubs and even individuals who have started recycling programs for their local area. It’s important that we list them in one place, so anglers can easily find a repository for their disposable tackle,” noted Ogilvie. “Perhaps people will discover an opportunity right around the corner that they never knew about.”
In addition, the FWC is working with B.A.S.S. Florida Conservation Director Eamon Bolton to evaluate ReBaits recycling containers at several locations. Tenoroc and Mosaic Fish Management Areas and Turkey Lake in Orlando are examples of the proposed or active sites. This program uses special containers to collect soft plastic lures that the FWC collects and mails to a central location for eventual recycling.
Finally, the FWC is a long-time proponent of the Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program, a statewide effort to educate the public on the problems caused by monofilament line left in the environment. The program also encourages recycling through a network of line recycling bins and drop-off locations, and conducts monofilament line cleanup events with volunteers.
This MRRP website (mrrp.MyFWC.com) can guide you through developing a local recycling program by providing guidelines and material to implement a Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program.
Anglers should strive to ensure the health of Florida’s aquatic systems and ensure quality-fishing opportunities. Participating in these simple angler-friendly programs is an easy way to contribute. Please help keep our waterways clean every time that you go out and Pitch It.
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