Marine Debris

Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program (MRRP)

The Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program (MRRP) is a statewide effort to educate the public on the problems caused by monofilament line left in the environment, to encourage recycling through a network of line recycling bins and drop-off locations, and to conduct volunteer monofilament line cleanup events. fishing line in tree

In Northeast Florida, the program is coordinated by Maia McGuire, Sea Grant Extension Agent.  Discarded monofilament can cause an environmental hazard for fish, turtles and birds which become entangled in the line. Boat motors and people can also become entangled.  Monofilament can be recycled—melted down and used to manufacture fish habitats. 

Are you looking for a location to take your fishing line so that it can be recycled?  See recycling locations in NE Florida.  For locations in other parts of the state, or to find out how to start your own monofilament recycling location, check the MRRP website.

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Trash in the Ocean

crushed soda canCoastal pollution is a growing problem. In the United States, the average person throws away 5 lbs of garbage each day, about 1/4 of which is non-biodegradable—it will last for a very long time. When non-biodegradable products like tin cans (which last about 50 years), styrofoam cups (75 years), aluminum cans (200 years), plastic bottles (450 years), monofilament line (600 years) and glass jars (undetermined) end up in the marine and coastal environment, the results can be deadly.

Clear plastics (such as bags and balloons) are often mistaken for jellyfish by animals such as the endangered leatherback sea turtle. When they eat plastic, these animals will often starve to death as the plastic clogs their intestines and they can no longer digest food.

Ropes, fishing nets and fishing line can entangle and strangle many types of coastal and aquatic creatures. Even if the lines do not kill the animals, they will inflict deep wounds which are subject to infection.

Discarded containers become death traps for small creatures like crabs which may be able to get into the container, but then cannot get out because the sides are too slippery. Temperatures inside these containers may be much hotter than the outside temperature, and animals can cook inside them.

What can you do? In addition to recycling as much as possible and discarding your garbage in proper (closed) containers, do your part to help clean up the coast. Participate in organized cleanup events (contact your local solid waste department to find out when one is scheduled), or simply pick up trash when you visit a public area.

Find out how you can help prevent stormwater pollution at this site.

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Marine Debris Timeline

The table below shows the length of time that it takes for various items to degrade in the ocean (from Mote Marine Lab).

Marine Debris Timeline - Click for larger image
Click the image above to see a larger graph.

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Marine Debris Curriculum

"The Educator's Guide to Marine Debris : Southeast and Gulf of Mexico" (2009) was produced by the COSEE Southeast Program.  You can view the online version here, or can request a printed copy from Maia McGuire by e-mail or at 386-437-7464.

Check out the Thai version of the Educator's Guide here!  (25 MB, pdf)