Clear Your Gear... and Your Conscience

Thin and often camouflaged, discarded fishing line seems unassuming.

Next to wildlife, it’s anything but. With deadly capabilities that go far beyond its looks, forgotten fishing line affects birds, sea turtles, seals, whales, sharks and other sea life. “North America—including Alberta—is not immune to this problem,” says Ken Kranrod, ACA vice president. “There’s a general ignorance about how something as seemingly insignificant as throwing away fishing line can become a critical problem for wildlife.”

Birds and animals often don’t see it, getting too close and becoming entangled. If entanglement doesn’t kill an animal right away (typically by drowning), wounds caused by the fishing line can be ghastly. Over time, the hard material cuts into the skin and muscle, and the animal lives in this tortured condition. The other scenario is animals ingesting fishing line (it also blows out of garbage cans or landfills)—just as deadly.

It sounds gruesome enough, but one doesn’t realize how bad it is until seeing entanglement in person. That distressing experience motivated Judy Robertson to found Clear Your Gear, a volunteer national network that engages communities and partners to supply hundreds of specialized recycling receptacles. So far, they’re in nine of our ten provinces.

“Everything we do relies on community,” says Steve Loney, volunteer. “Besides providing fishing line receptacles and instigating the entire recycling process, we educate the public about the tragic effects of poorly discarded fishing line. Monofilament can wreak havoc in our environments for up to 600 years!”

While those messages should be heard loud and clear, Clear Your Gear depends on its quiet operators. Volunteers work behind the scenes assembling and delivering receptacles, supporting communities, and finding partners and sponsors to keep the program expanding. It’s not uncommon for volunteers to meticulously piece together 8,000 components for new units, or drive three hours out of their way to deliver a receptacle. In fact, volunteers have covered over 10,000 kilometres to deploy the units to communities.

The journey doesn’t stop there. Volunteers collect fishing line from the recycling units and clean it of hooks, leaders, weights, and trash. Then it’s shipped to Iowa’s Berkley Pure Fishing Company, where the line is melted into raw plastic pellets that can be made into other products, including tackle boxes, spools, and toys.

Sponsors like Bass Pro and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, Wildlife Haven and TC Energy help Clear Your Gear grow nationally and maximize public awareness about the implications of discarded fishing line. And now, ACA is excited to be the newest partner. “We’re hoping the Clear Your Gear units will encourage anglers to properly dispose of their used fishing line so it can be recycled and kept out of habitat and far from wildlife,” says Kranrod.

Watch for them in a community near you, and if you are especially passionate about the cause, contact Clear Your Gear to see how you can help. Visit



Alberta Fish & Game Association:

  • Beaver River (Bonneyville) Fish & Game Association -Moose Lake
  • Camrose and District Fish & Game Association - Pleasure Island Fish Pond
  • Hay Lakes Fish & Game Club - Telegraph Park Pond
  • Lougheed Fish & Game Club - Lougheed Trout Pond
  • Lacombe Fish & Game Association - Len Thompson Pond
  • Lamont and District Fish & Game Association - Lamont Pond
  • Onoway & District Fish & Game Association - Salter’s Lake
  • Stony Plain Fish & Game Association - Star Lake / East Pit Lake
  • St. Paul Fish & Game Association - St. Paul Fish Pond
  • Trout Unlimited Canada – Northern Lights Fly Fishers - Muir Lake / Hasse Lake

Municipal Districts and Urban Centres:

  • County of Grande Prairie - County Sportsplex Pond
  • Lacombe County - Tees Trout Pond and Ray’s Pond
  • MD of Greenview - Swan Lake
  • Town of Taber -  Taber Trout Pond
  • Town of Bashaw - Bashaw Pond
  • Town of Ponoka - Ponoka Centennial Park Pond