Tampa Bay Crab Trap Clean Up

RIVERVIEW, FL, February 3, 2018 --Thank you to the volunteers and Tampa Bay Watch for sponsoring a successful derelict crab trap removal! Six volunteer airboats and 25 volunteers removed 84 traps, over 900 lbs of gear, from Tampa Bay! A special thanks to Florida Airboat Association, Kissimmee River Valley Sportsmen's Association, T.A. Mahoney Co. INC., & Covanta for their support of this important project.


Venice South Jetty Now Cleaned Up

VENICE, FL, October 23, 2017 - Venice’s awesome dive club came together again at the South Jetty on Sunday October 22, 2017 and pulled a monstrous amount of debris up from the depths.

Over 500 pounds of marine debris was taken from the water by this wonderful group, including 42 cast nets, 3 traps, and over 100 pounds of lead.  The weirdest find was a cell phone with a heavy metal bolt taped to it (makes you wonder doesn’t it).  Other interesting items were wine goblets, a plastic snowflake, 5-pound dumbbells, and a full tackle box encrusted with barnacles.

It’s amazing how the nets, once they are down there, start entangling all kinds of fishing rods, poles, lures and trash.  Stone crabs and other marine life that were inadvertently brought up with the debris were gently returned back to the water.

ReelCycle  partnered with Sarasota Bay Watch and Suncoast Reef Rovers of Venice on this project.  Important safety support came from the City of Venice Police and County Sheriff’s Office who provided an officer and boat to keep the divers safe.  Thirty-eight people volunteered – 13 SCUBA divers, one snorkeler, 5 kayakers, 2 canoeists and a big group helping from on land.

Venice North Jetty Clean Up Success

VENICE, FL August 12, 2017 -  ReelCycle partnered with Sarasota Bay Watch and the SunCoast Reef Rovers for the annual underwater clean-up of the Venice North Jetty, a popular fishing spot. A combination of 19 SCUBA divers, 19 ‘topsider’ helpers, one kayaker, one snorkeler, and one Sarasota County Sheriffs police boat worked for a few hours to rid the underwater habitat of abandoned fishing gear. 

Sarasota Bay Watch has been partnering with the Reef Rovers to help gather volunteers, sort debris, and gather data.  The EPA donated sturdy dive bags and Reelcycle partnered to ensure best practices are in place for gear disposal.  NAUI Green Diver Initiative also participated.

The Venice North Jetty was cleared of:  81 pounds of fishing nets, 82 pounds of lead (removed from the nets),2 43 pounds of abandoned traps, 108 pounds of fishing line, 72 pounds of rope, 55 lures, 6 fishing poles, and 50 pounds of recycling.

Once fishing gear is lost it snags other fishing line, forming an underwater tangle that moves with the waves, ripping out vegetation and entrapping animals.  The annually cleaning help to maintain a balance that ensures a sustainable healthy fish population.   

The Venice Fishing Pier is Spotless - Reef Rovers Keeping It Clean

VENICE, FL July 15, 2017 -  The entire Gulf beach under the Venice Fishing Pier is clean thanks to the work of the Suncoast Reef Rovers of Venice and their many friends. A team of divers and helpers descended on Brohard Beach on Saturday July 15, 2017 to remove underwater debris from a spot that is very popular with families, fishers and beach lovers. ReelCycle assisted in the disposal of the gear collected.

Thank you to the many groups who helped including Florida Underwater Sports, Sarasota Bay Watch, Venice Police, Venice Police Citizen Volunteers, Sharky’s Restaurant, the City of Venice and NAUI Green Diver.


Tampa Bay Derelict Trap Clean Up - A Huge Success

TAMPA BAY, FL, July 15, 2017 -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has mandated a temporary closure for the harvest of blue crabs from traps in all waters of Broward through Pasco counties including the waters of Tampa Bay.

FWC is requiring regional closed seasons for the blue crab fishery to help facilitate efforts to identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps in state waters of Florida. The local closure is from July 10-19 and extends out to 3 miles offshore and applies to both commercial and recreational freestanding traps (blue crab traps attached to private property are excluded from the closure). All commercial and recreational traps left in state waters during the 10-day closure will be considered derelict and can be removed.

It is important to note that even though the fishery will be closed, not just anybody can remove a trap. Anyone interested in being involved must be a part of an organized effort that has been authorized by FWC. Three regional, 10-day blue crab trap closures take place in designated areas in Florida in odd-numbered years, and three other closures occur in even-numbered years.

Derelict and abandoned crab traps in the waters are a problem for several reasons: They continue to ghost fish (fishing that continues despite the inactivity of the trap) killing not only the crabs but several other recreationally and commercially important species; they pose a navigational hazard to boaters; they can cause damage to valuable and sensitive habitats such as seagrass or natural hardbottom environments. Manatees, dolphins and sea turtles also can become entangled in the trap line causing injury or death.

“This event is great because it gets community volunteers involved in helping to preserve and protect the bay by removing debris and keeping marine life from needlessly getting caught and killed in abandoned traps,” said Serra Herndon, habitat restoration director for Tampa Bay Watch.

“Each year, hundreds of tons of derelict gear is discarded in landfills or illegally dumped, which can result in ‘ghost fishing’ or ‘ghost traps,’” said Devin Sanderson, ReelCycle’s founder and president. “Ghost traps that are lost or abandoned continue to catch crabs and fish in large numbers, threaten stocks, and damage the marine environment. ReelCycle works to create recycling programs for undesirable gear, from collection through disposal, providing both conservation and socioeconomic benefits. ReelCycle will take the crab traps collected during the project and deliver the traps to a metal recycling who will process and melt down the traps to ultimately reuse into another product. The non-metallic material collected such as stone crab traps, ropes, and floats will be incinerated and converted into energy through a waste-to-energy program. ReelCycle will be able to upcycle these traps into a renewable resource as opposed to being discarded in a landfill.”


New Pass Fishing Pier Underwater Cleanup is a Big Success

SARASOTA, FL June 3, 2017 -  ReelCycle assisted the Sarasota Bay Watch sponsored cleanup at Ken Thompson Park in Sarasota and pulled a surprising amount of debris up from the bottom of New Pass.  By far the most abundant waste was cast nets coming in at a total of 47!  The City of Sarasota Police Dive Team was an especially valuable partner because they not only provided expert SCUBA divers but also patrolled the area in their boats and kept the divers safe from passing boats.  Other partners included the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Marina Jacks, NAUI Green Diver, Scuba Quest dive shop, the City of Sarasota Sustainability Program, and Aqua Lung.

In about two hours, 35 scuba divers scoured a 500-foot long area of the bay bottom near the seawall.  The found trash and brought it to the surface where they handed it off to people in kayaks, canoes or jet skis.  The 8 paddlers brought it to shore where a group of 24 “topsiders” diligently returned any tangled up living things back to the water.  Some of the sea life they rescued were brittle stars, sea squirts, crabs, shrimp, coral, fish and even an octopus.  Next, the waste was cut up, measured and weighed.  Plastic fishing line was picked up by Reelcycle, a nonprofit leader in managing fishing tackle disposal.  The data from these cleanups is shared with NOAA and other leaders in the marine debris issue. 

Another Great American Cleanup in the books...Picnic Island Park style

TAMPA, FL - April 22, 2017 - Thank you for all the volunteers and partners for assisting ReelCycle's efforts to participate in the The Great American Cleanup at Picnic Island Park and celebrate Earth Day.  With over 30 volunteers, we were able to collect hundreds of pounds of marine debris along the shores of Picnic Island Park and and assist our partner Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful.

ReelCycle assists in Tony Saprito Fishing Pier Cleanup

SARASOTA, November 19, 2016 -  Sarasota Bay Watch and partners conducted an underwater cleanup at the Tony Saprito Pier in Sarasota. Participation swelled to over 60 volunteers as vacationers, fishermen from the Tony Saprito Pier and passerbys joined the effort.

Seven hundred and fifty pounds of debris was collected including fishing line, fishing poles, tires, crab traps, a laptop computer, three cell phones, street signs, anchors and cast nets. Participants also found a variety of marine life including three octopi, brittle stars, puffers, sea urchins, green muscles, and stone crabs.

In total over 750 pounds of debris was collected and brought back to a staging area under the Ringling Bridge. Twenty-five pounds of fishing line, 205 pounds of lead and 141 pounds of nets were separated, weighed and measured. The information gathered is shared with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine and Debris Program and the Ocean Conservancy.

ReelCycle was able to dispose of most of the debris, including the nets, in their Fishing for Energy Program (FEP). The FEP is a partnership of NOAA, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Covanta Energy, and Schnitzer Steel. The FEP has sites in 10 states and 48 ports and has collected over three million pounds of discarded fishing gear.

Partners included local volunteers, the Sarasota Police Department Underwater Search and Rescue Dive Team, SRQ Fire Department, city of Sarasota Sustainability Program, the Suncoast Reef Rovers, Aqua-Ventures Dive Team, the New College Bull Sharks Dive Team and a group of citizen divers organized by Al Jefferies of Scuba Quest.

The divers were assisted by volunteers in kayaks and police and fire department boats who transported the debris they collected to the staging area. Volunteers also were stationed on the pier, where they helped divers, collected discarded line and other debris. Many of those assisting the effort were high school students who received volunteer hours for their participation. One of the most rewarding moments of the cleanup was watching children as they released marine life from nets, fishing line and other debris.

The amount of debris collected during the cleanup was sobering when you consider the total amount that is hidden from view. Fortunately, this kind of cleanup is becoming more popular, relieving the environment of tons of discarded and lost gear. The debris scars marine habitat and entraps and entangles marine life.

3rd Florida Marine Debris Reduction Plan Meeting

St Petersburg, FL - May 20, 2016 - ReelCycle recently participated in the 3rd Florida Marine Debris Reduction Plan Meeting, a three-day workshop led by the NOAA Marine Debris Program bringing together Florida's marine debris community to share updates on accomplishments and to continue development of a statewide marine debris reduction plan.

Marine debris leaders within the state gathered to share information on existing projects and then begin developing a state-wide plan to address marine debris. Representatives from state agencies (Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), various NGO’s (e.g. ReelCycle, Sarasota Bay Watch, and the National Audubon Society), universities, and other NOAA offices as well participated in the meeting and plan development.

This highly specialized group of marine debris experts broke into working groups focused on derelict fishing gear, abandoned and derelict vessels, wildlife and habitat impacts, consumer debris, and emergency response.  By the end of the meeting, the working groups had prioritized goals and created synergies between the groups, especially in terms of outreach, education, and messaging objectives.


ReelCycle joins Global Partnership on Marine Litter

ReelCycle is pleased to join the Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML).  The GPML is a partnership for international agencies, governments, businesses, academia, local authorities, nongovernmental organizations and individuals and seeks to protect human health and the global environment by the reduction and management of marine litter as its main goal, through several specific objectives. 

  • To reduce the impacts of marine litter worldwide on economies, ecosystems, animal welfare and human health.
  • To enhance international cooperation and coordination through the promotion and implementation of the Honolulu Strategy - a global framework for the prevention and management of marine debris, as well as the Honolulu Commitment – a multi-stakeholder pledge.
  • To promote knowledge management, information sharing and monitoring of progress on the implementation of the Honolulu Strategy.
  • To promote resource efficiency and economic development through waste prevention (e.g. 4Rs (reduce, re-use, recycle and re-design) and by recovering valuable material and/or energy from waste.
  • Increase awareness on sources of marine litter, their fate and impacts.
  • To assess emerging issues related to the fate and potential influence of marine litter, including (micro) plastics uptake in the food web and associated transfer of pollutants and impacts on the conservation and welfare on marine fauna

The GPML was launched during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio + 20 in June 2012.  It builds on the Honolulu Strategy, a global framework for tackling marine litter, which was presented at the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference held in Honolulu, Hawaii in 2011.  The United Nations Environment Programme provides the Secretariat for the GPML in line with the mandate received in the ‘Manila Declaration on Furthering the Implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities’.