Marine litter affects a variety of marine animals, notably turtles, coastal birds and whales. Fishing line and other fishery-related products pose a major danger as marine creatures may become entangled in them and this can impede movement, which could lead to the loss of body parts, drowning or even starvation.

Entanglements off South Africa’s coastline have been reported in at least five species of mammals, two turtle species, six fish species and thirteen seabird species. Bird species most affected by entanglement are African Penguins, Cape Gannets, cormorants and gulls.

For these reasons the installation of fishing line bins was identified as one of six projects forming part of BirdLife Overberg’s CleanMarine conservation campaign. These bins have now been put up at various sites along most of the Overstrand coastline. BirdLife Overberg thanks all the volunteers who assisted them with this process and particularly the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) for initiating it and assembling the bins. Thanks also go to all those organisations which contributed very generous donations, including the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) division of BirdLife South Africa, MacNeil Plastics and John Kieser of Plastics SA.

Many examples of the success of these fishing line bins have already been illustrated. Volunteers from Marine Dynamics Academy at DICT recently emptied and fixed the fishing line bins along the beach at Die Plaat and collected 580g – that’s more than 2 km of fishing line!

We appeal to fishermen and anglers, as well as beachgoers, community members and holidaymakers to support this initiative by depositing fishing line into these bins. Also report spots where significant quantities of fishing line wash up along our shoreline with GPS co-ordinates to birding@overberg.co.za. Every little bit of fishing line collected contributes to the improvement and conservation of our beautiful coastline.

Further information can be obtained from the website www.westerncapebirding.co.za or by contacting Dr Anton Odendal of BirdLife Overberg on 082 550 3347.

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