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The KLCB Marine Cleanup is an annual event during which volunteers go out in boats, kayaks, canoes, jet skis and anything else that floats, to remove monofilament fishing line and other harmful debris from the mangrove areas of Lee County. The boaters begin working at safe light (dawn) and continue until around noon at which time they are treated to a Volunteer Appreciation Barbecue by Sam Galloway Ford. Because of the focus on fishing line, the project committee has affectionately dubbed the cleanup “Monofilament Madness”. It is hoped that through educational awareness, the people who are causing the problem will be reached and their behavior modified so that, among other reasons, wildlife will be spared agonizing deaths from entanglement in monofilament fishing line.
The project was conceived in 1993 in a small tackle shop in North Fort Myers (Lehr’s Economy Tackle) by two local fisherman (Larry Davis and Dave Westra), who discussed doing something about the deplorable problem of monofilament fishing line which had been discarded or left by careless fishermen especially in the mangrove areas. Davis and Westra were sure they could drum up volunteer support from local fishermen and boaters, but were in need of help in raising the funds necessary for such a project. The two came to KLCB seeking help with their cleanup idea and the Marine Cleanup project was born. KLCB is a private non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization capable of coordinating such projects through community sponsor support. Sam Galloway agreed to provide a catered lunch to all volunteers who would come out on Marine Cleanup Day to clean up the mess. Other corporate leaders followed.
The ultimate goal, of course, is to eliminate the monofilament and trash problem, and the success of attaining that goal would be measured by the lack of the problem. Until then, we measure the cleanup’s success by the growing awareness and willingness of hundreds of volunteers to dedicate a Sunday to the cause.
Nothing could have prepared us for the first Marine Cleanup day (October 29, 1993) when volunteers began unloading mounds of trash and huge tangles of monofilament line onto the dock at Tarpon Point Marina. As boat after boat pulled up to the dock, it became clear that the citizens of Lee County were very serious about cleaning up their beautiful waterways.
Without a doubt, the #1 culprit is monofilament fishing line — miles of it. In fact, according to the Executive Director of KLCB, Rudy Busch, the previous “Monofilament Madness” cleanups have produced enough discarded fishing line to stretch from Fort Myers to Tallahassee.