DBW Guest Editorial: Three Solutions to Recycle Hazardous Fishing Line

“Stow It, Don’t Throw It” and Dockside Containers Available to Boaters

STATEWIDE—On land or sea, how do we get rid of old, tangled fishing lines that clutter our boats and gear? It’s definitely a problem to solve. Fishing lines are not biodegradable, and when left in the environment, it poses a serious hazard to wildlife, which can become entangled and suffer severe injury such as loss of limbs or even death from gangrenous infection or strangulation.

Fishing line discarded in our waterways is a safety issue due to the risk of fouling boat propellers, especially around boat ramps and fishing areas. Even when we dump the line into trash bins, it still creates hazards for wildlife around landfills.

Existing recycling containers provide one solution to properly discard of used line. The California Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) and the California Coastal Commission’s Boating Clean and Green Program have partnered with the BoatUS Foundation to place 280 fishing line recycling containers at many locations throughout the state.

If you are not near any of these recycling locations, you can mail your used fishing line to Berkley Recycling Collection Center at 1900 18th Street, Spirit Lake, Iowa 51360-1099.

In California, about 1,700 pounds of fishing line have been collected and recycled via the Fishing Line Program. Stretched out, these fishing lines would stretch from San Francisco to Barrington, Nova Scotia, Canada!

The second solution to this fishing line problem is to build and place simple recycling containers at your homeport or favorite fishing spot, launch ramp, dock, pier or park. It is easy to do! Construction directions and photos are available online shown below. Stickers for your fishing line recycling station and the postage paid box to return accumulated line from your container are available free by mail.

For more information about this program and to see the locations of current stations, visit Click on the CA Fishing Line recycling program under “Related Pages”, or call or email Vivian Matuk at 415-904-6905 or

Looking for another way to help? People of all ages can do something to help prevent this problem, whether they fish or not. Constructing and distributing simple, portable fishing line containers (tennis ball cans or similar) can help people store their fishing line until they get to a recycling collection site or a secure trash can.

The “Stow It, Don’t Throw It” project was conceived by Florida high school student Sean Russell, who now manages the national program. Constructing these “Stow It” containers is a great project for classrooms, environmental clubs, scout troops and community groups of all kinds. Tennis ball cans are easily found at your local tennis club, sporting goods store or school physical education departments.

Visit to receive can labels and other educational resources from DBW and the California Coastal Commission.


Share This:


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *