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UPDATE 9/23/2016: The ramp in Steinhatchee is open and operational.

UPDATE 9/4/2016: The Ideal Marina ramp in Steinhatchee was damaged during Hurricane Hermine, shortly after the original post below was written. The sign and monofilament bin are still located at the ramp but other aspects of the facility will require repairs. I was very sad to see the amount of damage suffered by many homes and businesses in Steinhatchee but I am confident people will be back on their feet soon.

ORIGINAL POST:

If you’ve passed by the Ideal Marina public boat ramp in Steinhatchee, FL lately, you may have noticed a new sign and monofilament fishing line recycling bin (the large PVC tube in the photo above). These new additions are aimed at educating boaters and increasing the sustainability of boating and fishing activities in and around Steinhatchee. The installation of the sign and monofilament bin was a collaboration between the UF IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station, Florida Sea Grant, Taylor County, and Keep Taylor County Beautiful. Read on for more information about these new boat ramp amenities!

Scars Hurt: Boating. Fishing. You.IMG_2536

Seagrasses serve many important functions such as supporting local fisheries for spotted seatrout, blue crabs, shrimp, redfish, and scallops. Seagrass meadows also increase water clarity by trapping particles and reducing sediment resuspension, making the waters more beautiful for everyone to enjoy. Once scarred, seagrasses can take years to recover and are more vulnerable to other negative impacts such as erosion and uprooting during storms.

SCARS HURT STICKER 1

The new sign at the ramp (pictured right) is part of a multi-faceted outreach campaign aimed at increasing boater awareness about the negative effects of propeller scarring in seagrass habitats. With the ever-increasing number of recreational boaters visiting the Nature Coast, increases in damage to seagrasses by propellers and anchors is a growing concern. The sign offers information about how to be a Seagrass Safe Boater and the eye-catching design will hopefully remind boaters to take extra care around Nature Coast’s valuable seagrass meadows. Identical signs have also been installed at two ramps in Citrus County and another will go in at the Cedar Key public ramp.

For more information about this project, see http://beseagrasssafe.com/ or contact me at savanna.barry@ufl.edu. You can have your opinions about seagrasses heard by taking a survey and seagrass safe boating pledge (click here).

The Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program

GH_posterThe new monofilament fishing line recycling bin at the Steinhatchee ramp is part of the multi-state Monofilament Recovery and IMG_2534Recycling Program (MRRP), coordinated in Florida by the FWC. The MRRP is an important part of sustainable fishing in Florida. Monofilament line can cause many problems in the environment, including the (often lethal) entanglement of birds, marine mammals, turtles, and other wildlife. Fishing line can be accidentally consumed by animals or snag and tangle in boat propellers, taking the fun out of a day on the water. It is important to use the PVC bins at the boat ramps to dispose of unwanted monofilament fishing line because regular recycling centers cannot recycle the line.

The monofilament recycling program consists of two parts: outdoor recycling bins for public use (like the one pictured to the right) and indoor recycling bins used by bait shops, marinas, and other retailers. The program depends on volunteers to empty the public bins and deliver the line to participating retailers (e.g., Sea Hag Marina or West Marine) to be collected and mailed in to Berkley Conservation Institute where it is recycled. In Steinhatchee, local resident Eddie Cullaro has adopted the monofilament bin and will be the caretaker of the bin for the community – be sure to say “thanks” to him if you see him around town.

If there is not a bin near you, there may be one coming soon – bins are planned for Jena, Yankeetown, Inglis, and Econfina. You can get in touch with me (savanna.barry@ufl.edu for Nature Coast bins) or your local Florida Sea Grant agent (for bins outside of the Nature Coast) to find out how to have one added to your local boat ramp or fishing pier.

Resources

Be Seagrass Safe: http://beseagrasssafe.com/

Monofilament Recycling and Recovery FAQ: http://mrrp.myfwc.com/faqs/

Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/bigbend/

Boaters: Be aware of seagrass below

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