If you’re like me, there’s no doubt been a time in your life when you felt the need to do something to make a difference in the world, but then you talked yourself out of it. Maybe the problem seemed too big, the amount of work too daunting or you just couldn’t find the time. Well, a recent introduction to the ‘Stow It — Don’t Throw It’ project proved me wrong. Everyone is capable of enacting change.
I was fishing with Capt. Johnnie Walker (baywalkercharters.com) in Sarasota, Florida, and I noticed that he had a really clever bin to collect used monofilament attached to the leg of his T-top. It was made from an old tennis ball container, and it had a Velcro strap so you can attach it to a tower leg or T-top so it won’t fly away.
“That’s brilliant,” I said, pointing to the bin.
“Yeah,” Johnnie said, “a young man here in Sarasota did some work with this group for his Eagle Scout project. He made a bunch of these bins and handed them out to all of the captains in the area.”
I was impressed.
If you aren’t already aware of the problems associated with discarded monofilament, here are a few disturbing facts:
• It takes 600 years for monofilament fishing line to decompose.
• According to the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program, from 2000-2006, 298 sea turtles were entangled in fishing line in Florida.
• Hundreds of fish, birds and even land animals are harmed due to entanglement every year.
• Discarded monofilament can entangle boat propellers, causing costly repairs for boat owners.
• When wildlife become entangled in or ingest monofilament, it can result in the animals losing their flippers, tails, and wings, as well as drowning, starvation, and death.
• From 2000-2006, 26 manatees were rescued in Florida due to entanglements.
When you consider that there are 42 million people who fish in the United States, and most of them use monofilament line, it’s easy to see that there is a ton of old fishing line out there floating around.
But here’s the cool part, the Stow It — Don’t Throw It project came up with a smart solution to combat the problem, rather than taking the crazy greenie approach of ganging up on fishermen and calling us the devil.
The Stow It — Don’t Throw It group takes it a step further and introduces young people to the marine environment and empowers them with the ability to make a difference.
Teachers have brought the program into their classrooms and talked about the environment, then had youngsters make the bins that are actually used on boats. The end result is a cleaner, safer marine environment for everyone.
I encourage all anglers, young or old, to get involved with a group such as this one. Get out there and make a difference. To start a Stow It — Don’t Throw It program in your community, visit www.stowitdontthrowitproject.org.
If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. — Dalai Lama