Ban non-biodegradable monofilament fishing line!

As you may know, some of the plastic waste that enters oceans, lakes, rivers and other waterways is in the form of lost or discarded monofilament fishing line. The lion’s share of this is non-biodegradable with the potential for remaining in the marine environment for many centuries.

Aquatic animals that become entangled in monofilament line can lose flippers, tails and wings and often die from drowning, starvation, blood loss or infection. If not rescued, these unsuspecting creatures can suffer unimaginable agony for days when line becomes snagged on the sea floor. Imagine the horror and panic of being ensnared and helpless, slowly dying from trauma, asphyxiation or starvation. Imagine drowning when you may be mere inches from salvation but the harder you struggle the deeper and more excruciatingly painful your wounds become.

Scores of fish species swallow or become entangled in monofilament line and thousands of pelicans, cormorants, egrets, herons, other seabirds and even land animals are maimed every year from entanglements. If that’s not tragic enough, there may be evidence of a correlation between coral reef degradation and the fishing line that litters the surface of coral colonies.

Lost or discarded non-biodegradable monofilament line can remain in the environment for as long as 600 years and create deadly, invisible hazards to wildlife. It degrades even more slowly in deeper waters than shallow due to the absence of sunlight. Fishing line is widely considered to be one of the marine debris items most dangerous to wildlife and responsible for a staggering share of all animal entanglements. Even agile dolphins aren’t immune with scientists reporting unsustainable death rates in some wild dolphin populations due to fishing line entanglement.

Commercial “long-line” fisherman catch tuna and swordfish by dragging 40 miles of monofilament line with thousands of individually baited hooks. This practice purportedly drowns thousands of birds and turtles every year and contributes to “ghost fishing” where lost gear continues to drift and ensnare fish indefinitely.

Biodegradable monofilament line is now available and by all accounts it’s every bit as fishable as non-biodegradable. It may cost a bit more and have a shorter shelf life but that seems a small price to pay considering it breaks down in about 5 years instead of 600. Animals caught in biodegradable line as little as 2 years old may at least have a fighting chance since it’s already starting to degrade and more likely to break.


At very least we should ban non-biodegradable monofilament line for sport fishing, a hobby that can be every bit as enjoyable without contributing nearly as much to this environmental nightmare that takes so many precious and innocent casualties.

Published by Bill Hoover