Common Asked Questions


Derelict fishing gear refers to nets, lines, crab/shrimp pots, and other recreational or commercial fishing equipment that has been lost, abandoned, or discarded in the marine environment. Modern gear is generally made of synthetic materials and metal, which means it can persist for a long time.

Monofilament – or “mono” for short – is a single strand of material that is made of a strong, flexible plastic that is clear or tinted many colors. It is one of the most popular types of fishing line used today.

Marine debris is persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment. There is no body of water that does not deal with this problem. A majority of the trash or debris comes from storm drains and sewers, as well as from shoreline and recreational activities. Marine debris is a threat to our environment, navigational safety, the economy, and human health.

Line Recycling

No, only fishing line that is a single filament, nylon product may be recycled (such as monofilament and fluorocarbon). Fishing line that is braided or contains wire cannot be recycled. Fishing line that has a lot of growth on it or plant material mixed up with it may not be recycled as well. Cut this fishing line up in small pieces (less than 12 inches) and place in a covered trash bin to make sure the line is disposed of properly.

If you throw out fishing line you are still keeping it out of the environment, but make sure the trash receptacle has a lid and be sure to cut the line into short lengths (6 to 12 inches). Once line goes to a landfill, longer pieces may be scavenged by animals trying to eat it or build nests out of it. Animals may become entangled, entangle their young, or will bring the line right back out into the environment.

No. Fishing line is a high density plastic and requires a special recycling process. It cannot go into most regular household recycling bins. Instead, it should be brought to an seal and loop bin. If you spool line at home, save it up in a box or bag and bring it to a drop off location.

Effects of Old Fishing Gear

Most of the fishing line that ends up in the water is the result of a hook getting snagged on unintended objects such as rocks or tree limbs and line breaking when pulled. Sometimes the line can rub against a sharp object (like an oyster shell or barnacles) and break. Additionally large fish can sometimes break lines while they are being reeled in. 

Even fishing line that has been thrown in the garbage can end up in the environment –  either by blowing out of the garbage can, being taken out by birds for nest-building materials, or removed by other animals. Some people also just throw the line right into the water when they are done with it!

Many types of wildlife are harmed by discarded fishing line, including birds, turtles, manatees, fish, dolphins, and even humans. However, almost any type of animal can be entangled in line or will try to consume it.

Ghost fishing occurs when lost or discarded fishing gear that is no longer under a fisherman’s control continues to trap and kill fish, crustaceans, marine mammals, sea turtles, and sea birds. These nets and traps can continue to ghost fish for years once they are lost under the water’s surface. 

Ghost fishing can kill target and non-target organisms, included endangered and protecting species, cause damage to underwater habitats (such as coral reefs and benthic fauna), and contribute to marine pollution.

All whales and dolphins are at risk of entanglement caused by marine debris and fishing industry equipment.

A whale or dolphin entanglement emergency occurs when a free-swimming animal is confined or hindered by netting, fishing lines or other debris of human origin such as plastic strapping and sheeting.  Debris that cause harm to whales or dolphins include:

  • plastic garbage
  • bottles
  • ropes
  • derelict fishing gear
  • ship-sourced, non-biodegradable floating materials.

Entanglements may cause distress, suffering, serious injury, compromised breeding success or death to the entangled animal.

Stay calm and strictly observe for a couple of minutes to see if the animal is actually entangled.

If you see an entangled whale, you should report it to the Whale and Dolphin Emergency Hotline on 1300 136 017.  

If you are on water, please do not approach the whale as this may place you and your vessel in danger and may further harm and stress the whale.  Vessel, drones and aircraft should remain at least 300m from all whales.