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Fishing line recycling at Balboa Pier gets OK from Newport Beach parks commission

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Romeo Joson, 67, strings a fishing pole as fellow Orange resident Mike Gaughan, 64, pulls up water for a bait tank at the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach. Local sportfishing charters Newport Landing and Davey’s Locker propose collecting used fishing lines on the Balboa Pier for recycling.
(File Photo)

A fishing line recycling program is closer to reality for the Balboa Pier.

The Newport Beach Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission gave its approval Tuesday for the project, which would place five collection receptacles around the popular angling spot.

The proposal, which will go to the City Council for final approval, is for a partnership between the city and Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing, sister companies that offer chartered sportfishing and whale-watching trips in area waters. It would come at no cost to the city, with volunteers from the companies emptying and maintaining the collection containers.

“I just don’t know why we didn’t do this 30, 40 years ago,” Commissioner Walt Howald said.

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Jessica Roame, the manager of marine education programs for Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing who is spearheading the initiative, said the clear plastic fishing lines are nonbiodegradable and a threat to marine life such as gulls and sea lions, which can become tangled in or inadvertently ingest the tough monofilament. It’s also litter than can foul boat propellers.

Roame gave the example of a young sea lion named Leia, whom rescuers from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center recently retrieved from the Newport Pier area with fishing gear ensnared in her mouth and a fin. The pup had to be sedated to have the line removed before being nursed back to health at the mammal center’s Laguna Beach facility.

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Leia, left, a sea lion pup rescued from the Newport Pier area with fishing gear in her mouth and a fin, and Yoda, who was rescued from a jetty at Dana Point Harbor, rest while being nursed back to health at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach in December.
(File Photo / Los Angeles Times)

Volunteers with the sportfishing companies would pick out hooks and old bait and ship off the lines to the Iowa headquarters of tackle manufacturer Berkley Fishing Inc. for a future as artificial reef-like structures in the Hawkeye State’s lakes. Berkley, which collects lines from all over the country, melts down the plastic and refashions it into cube-shaped cages that become underwater fish habitats that encourage breeding. The company says it has recycled more than 9 million miles’ worth of lines since 1990.

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Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing have collected their used lines for the Berkley Conservation Institute for about five years.

The recycling containers would be made of PVC pipe shaped to resemble periscopes and would be stationed at the pop-outs midway up the pier and near the Ruby’s Diner at the pier’s end. Roame said signs would remind passersby not to toss trash in the receptacles, but volunteers would be willing to pick out garbage as long as it’s not tossed on the water or pier deck.

The parks commission approved the program 6-0, with member Kate Malouf absent.

Commission Chairman David Granoff was keen to also collect line at the Newport Pier, where he said he and his son once helped a bird stuck in a line.

Roame said the companies started with the Balboa Pier for its proximity to their Newport Harbor headquarters, but the program could expand to the Newport Pier, the harbor-facing M Street fishing dock and the Back Bay if it takes off.

Davis writes for Times Community News.


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