Fishing line cleanup helps seabirds
rusty chinnis | submitted
Steve Schaefer and Jeanne Blackburn, of Longboat Key,
show some of the fishing line and lures that accumulate on area bridge fenders.
On Oct. 4 from 8:30 until 12:30 p.m. members of Sarasota Bay Watch will team up with Save Our Seabirds, and the Sarasota Sailing Squadron to conduct the Sixth Annual Fishing Line Cleanup of bird rookeries in Sarasota Bay. The event is organized to remove fishing line from mangroves during the season when birds are not nesting.
The event has been a great success in years past with participants collecting yards of line from Roberts Bay to Manatee County during the morning event. Lunch will be provided to volunteers after the cleanup. Those who can’t make the meeting, but would still like to help can call 941-232-2363 and arrangements will be made to get equipment to you and pick up the trash you collect which is very important for research.
Registration is required; go to http://sarasotabaywatch.org/event-sign-up/. Participants can use boats, kayaks, canoes and stand up paddle boards. There will be extra boat spaces and extra kayaks for those who would like (compliments of Island Style Watersports). Cleanup can be done on foot (especially around the bridges and fishing piers). Make sure to bring proper footwear, eye protection, sunscreen, hats, gloves, water, and an enthusiastic spirit!
Anglers that fish the coastal waters of Florida will invariably come into contact with the seabirds that inhabit the estuaries of Florida. Often that encounter is deadly to seabirds because anglers don’t know the basics of caring for our feathered friends. Birds live here, it’s their home and they aid anglers in their search for fish. The birds get into trouble when they either come into contact with discarded fishing line in mangroves or they take line to their roosts after becoming hooked by fishermen that don’t know how to properly release them.
If you hook a bird while fishing, make sure that you fight it to the boat with a properly set drag to prevent it from breaking free while trailing line. If this happens it may well be a death sentence for the bird when it returns to its roost at night. If you work the bird to the boat as you would a prized fish, it can be held by the side of the head while the hook is removed. Care should be taken with all birds, especially ones that have sharp beaks. If the angler is careful, a towel can be placed over the bird in order to get control of it.
Remember to handle birds carefully as they have very light hollow bones. Cautiously unwind the line from wings and feet and then check the bird carefully before releasing it. If you see a hooked or tangled bird in a rookery during nesting season, don’t approach it as its young may be startled and fall from the nest.
The incidence of anglers hooking birds can be reduced by following a few simple rules. First never feed birds. This trains birds to look for a handout and leads to trouble for the birds and anglers. Second, while you’re fishing be aware of birds that might be eying your bait. It’s easy to pull the bait out of harm’s way at the last second before a gull or tern dives on it.
Taking care of the environment that feeds our passion is every angler’s responsibility. Follow these simple guidelines – be aware of their presence, take care in handling them when you do come into contact and never feed birds. Make sure you pay attention, and when you see a bird in trouble, spread the word to other fishermen.
If you see a bird in distress call Save Our Seabirds at 941-388-3010 or Audubon Coastal Island Sanctuaries at 813-623-6826. You can find out about future events or join Sarasota Bay Watch by going to www.sarasotabaywatch.org