Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Politics & Govt
Published on November 16, 2016
Port Of SF Introducing New Fishing Line Recycling StationsPhotos: Port of San Francisco

Today, the Port of San Francisco is unveiling a new addition to the city's waterfront: microfilament fishing line recycling stations. The new stations are intended to help protect pelicans and other aquatic birds, by keeping improperly discarded fishing hooks and lines out of the water and surrounding areas. 

The impetus for the project was Judy Irving, a local filmmaker best known for The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. While filming Pelican Dreams, her documentary about pelicans, she learned that pelicans will often swoop down and try to eat the bait right off a fisherman's hook, causing injuries.

While some fishermen will try to reel a caught bird in, so they can release the hook from its mouth, many others will simply cut the line, leaving the pelican to fly away with fishing tackle attached to their body. "That ultimately could lead to its death," Irving said, and also leaves potentially dangerous lines in the water for other birds to get caught up in.

The most common reason for pelicans' admission to wildlife rehabilitation centers is injuries sustained from fishing lines and hooks, she said. "It's part of the education process. We're teaching those with lines in the water where there are lots of pelicans near the line to pull them out."

Irving contacted her supervisor, District 3's Aaron Peskin, to see if something could be done about providing a space to safely discard used fishing line. Peskin reached out to the Port, which had participated in a similar pilot program years ago. 

This time around, "the station design and recycling program was improved to ensure the new stations ... are successful," said Kirsten Southey, a representative for the port. 

The stations "have been installed at locations such as piers and wharfs, where there is frequent fishing from the public," Southey said. And "the Port has also been working with commercial fishermen at Pier 45 to collect their used line and fishing nets."

The new stations will be located at Pier 7, Pier 14, Hyde Street Harbor, Rincon Park, Brannan Street Wharf, Piers 30-32, Pier 64-Agua Vista Park, Pier 96-Herons Head Park, Bayview Gateway park (near the intersection of Amador and Illinois streets) and Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf.  

Irving, who'll be introducing the new stations today at Pier 14 alongside Peskin and the port's executive director, Elaine Forbes, told us that all of the material deposited into the bins will be recycled, including the plastic lines and the metal hooks.

"These are very easily solvable solutions to these problems," she said.