P3P Fishing Line Recycling Campaign
P3P Fishing Line Recycling Working Group
Out of a desire to protect local wildlife and keep our beaches and fishing areas clean and accessible for generations of Texans to come, twelve governmental and non-profit organizations in the Houston/Galveston area joined forces to create the Plastics Pollution Prevention Partnership (P3P). Through this partnership, we created a team to identify the major threats that plastic pollution poses to local coastal birds and marine wildlife. This group, made up of members from Audubon Texas, Galveston Bay Area Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists (TXMN-GBAC), Houston Zoo, and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality -Galveston Bay Estuary Program identified discarded (littered) fishing line as one of the biggest threats to wildlife like American oystercatchers and sea turtles. Knowing that TXMN-GBAC volunteers are ensuring that the bins remain well maintained and accessible to the public, the P3P fishing line working group’s focus involved identifying strategies to ensure the bins are properly utilized by the community. In order to implement effective strategies, we used behavior change tools to better understand our audience. After conducting over 250 interviews, we learned that while many anglers were not currently recycling their line, they would be willing to in the future. The only thing holding them back? They either didn’t know where they could recycle their line, or that fishing line could be recycled in the first place. We knew that to increase the effectiveness of the bins themselves we were going to need to work with the community to develop an action that community members can take ownership of and champion. To encourage social norming to take place, we ask anglers to pose for a photo and sign it, pledging to recycle their fishing line to help save sea turtles. These photos are then publicly posted on a bulletin board near the entrance of their fishing site. Anglers who commit to recycling their line are given a sticker to put on their tackle box as a tool to remind them to recycle their line before heading home. This commitment process helps the community practice the new behavior of properly recycling fishing line while building pride and reinforcing the participants’ identity as someone who protects wildlife. To determine if this strategy is working, volunteers will conduct cleanups at campaign sites twice a month and measure the amount of line collected in monofilament recycling bins versus the amount of line collected on the ground. As more members of the community begin to recycle their fishing line, we anticipate the amount of line on the ground to decrease, and the amount collected from the bins to increase. If this behavior is successfully adopted and practiced for years to come, we anticipate a decrease in the number of bird and sea turtle entanglement cases. At our mini-pilot site in Freeport, Texas, we saw a 32% increase of line in the bins versus on the ground after four months of testing this social norm/commitment strategy.