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Newport Beach considers recycling program for Balboa Pier anglers’ fishing lines

Mike Gaughan, 64, fishes for bait off the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach on Wednesday. The city of Newport Beach is considering allowing local sportfishing companies Newport Landing and Davey's Locker to place receptacles at the Balboa Pier to collect used fishing lines for recycling.
Mike Gaughan, 64, fishes for bait off the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach on Wednesday. The city of Newport Beach is considering allowing local sportfishing companies Newport Landing and Davey’s Locker to place receptacles at the Balboa Pier to collect used fishing lines for recycling.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Newport Beach may partner with local sportfishing charters to recycle fishing lines that could endanger marine life such as gulls and sea lions.

Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing, sister companies that also offer whale-watching tours and dock in the Fun Zone area of Newport Harbor, want to place five receptacles around nearby Balboa Pier to capture anglers’ used monofilament. The companies would then send 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.

Newport’s Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission will consider the request when it meets Tuesday.

“Recreational fishing is one of the most eco-friendly things you can do,” at least for catching one’s own food, said Jessica Roame, manager of marine education programs for Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing. “But the kind of waste that comes out of it is one of the most unfortunate things.”

That waste is the typically clear, thread-thin but tough plastic monofilament that can entangle or be ingested by opportunistic feeders such as gulls and sea lions that surround boats and piers looking for bait and guts, Roame said.

Romeo Joson, 67, strings a fishing pole as Mike Gaughan, 64, pulls up water for a bait tank at the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach on Wednesday.
Romeo Joson, 67, strings a fishing pole as Mike Gaughan, 64, pulls up water for a bait tank at the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach on Wednesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Even when properly discarded, the nonbiodegradable plastic lines sit in landfills. And errant lines in the water can snarl boat propellers, according to the California Division of Boating and Waterways.

Michael Molnar of Orange leaned over the Balboa Pier railing Thursday and monitored a line baited with live smelt that he suspected was attracting a halibut because of the persistent nibbling. If Molnar managed to get a full bite, he would release his catch, he said.

Molnar said he has called the state Department of Fish and Wildlife before to assist an egret with a fishing line around its leg.

He said he would use the proposed recycling containers rather than pocket and throw out his used lines like he does now.

Santiago Serezo of Fullerton was stationed at the pierhead teaching his younger brother Nathan, 15, how to fish on a sabiki rig, a multiple-hook setup used to catch small fish like mackerel about a half-dozen at a time.

Serezo said he packs his used line in his tackle box. Every few trips he reorganizes his gear and properly tosses the refuse, he said.

“I have seen a problem here with a lot of leftover line, leftover material,” he said. Recently, he tried to help a gull with a line around its leg, using bait to draw it close, but the bird flew off, he said.

Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing have collected their used lines for the Berkley Conservation Institute for about five years. Their offer to expand the collection to the Balboa Pier, one of several popular local places to sink a line near shore, would come at no charge to the city.

A deep-sea sportfishing spool like those the charters use has 360 yards of line. If only some of it is used, the rest must be chucked so the next customer has a full reel. Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing have saved more than 500 pounds of unusable lines for recycling over the years, Roame said.

Fishing line collection containers proposed for the Balboa Pier would be made of PVC pipe, as shown in these examples.
(Courtesy of city of Newport Beach)

The new 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. Volunteers with the sportfishing companies would empty and maintain the containers, pick out hooks and old bait and ship off the lines.

Berkley melts down the lines and refashions the plastic into cube-shaped cages that become underwater fish habitats that encourage breeding. The material also becomes other durables like park benches. The company says it has recycled more than 9 million miles worth of lines since 1990.

Discarded fishing lines hang beneath the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach. Newport Landing and Davey's Locker want to place recycling containers for used fishing lines on the pier.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The state and the BoatUS Foundation maintain line collection sites at marinas and fishing spots around Orange County, also to benefit Berkley. The Balboa Bay Club and Balboa Yacht Basin have stations, as does the Huntington Beach Pier.

Tuesday’s meeting of the Newport Beach Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission will begin at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 100 Civic Center Drive.

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