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SF installs fish line recycling stations to help marine life

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(Photo courtesy Kirsten Southey)

City officials and environmental advocates on Wednesday unveiled one of nine new monofilament fish line recycling stations at San Francisco’s Pier 14 to better protect Bay Area wildlife.

The recycling stations aim to keep wildlife, particularly pelicans, from being hooked and tangled in fishing lines. Often, wildlife try eating caught fish and many fishermen just cut their fishing lines, leaving their hooks embedded and their lines to entangle them.

“This is really going to keep our fish life and wildlife safe and allow us to continue recreational fishing,” said Executive Director Elaine Forbes of the San Francisco Port Commission. “We are custodians of this Bay along with our regional partners.”

The recycling stations allow fishermen to conveniently dispose of fishing lines and hooks. The stations located next to trash recycling bins and are technologically superior to previous ones where fish lines became enmeshed in the recycling station..

New stations are installed at Hyde Street Harbor, Fisherman’s Wharf, Rincon Park, Brannan Street Wharf, Agua Vista Park, Bayview Gateway Park, Heron’s Head Park, and Piers 7 and 14. Additional stations are set to open at Piers 30 and 31. These stations are sponsored by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways and the California Coastal Commission.

Judy Irving, documentary filmmaker and director of the documentary “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill,” learned of the need for recreational fish line recycling after creating her latest documentary “Pelican Dreams.” She mentioned it to her neighbor, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, and together they contacted the Port Commission.

“They [pelicans] often run into a lot of problems up and down the West Coast,” Irving said. “They often go after the bait; they don’t know better–especially the young ones,”

Irving spoke of ways to help pelicans. One was to educate recreational fishermen to keep fish line and hooks out the Bay and the other was teaching how they can safely unhook wildlife.

Instructions for using the stations will be in four languages: Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish and English. People should call San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control at (415) 554-9400 if they see a distressed pelican, Irving said.

Port employees devised the easy-to-install fish line recycling station for about $100 each. The new design avoids fishing line entanglement with the recycling receptacle.

Recycled fishing line is collected and sent back by the Port to the manufacturer for recycling. Additional signage may be installed to alert recreational fishermen of the service.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated the fish line recycling stations cost $1,000 each. They actually cost $100 each.

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