Thursday, June 24, 2010

Litter picking is an All Season Sport - Fishing Bait in Styrofoam containers [Litter prevention]. south Burlington, Vermont

Fishing season for many has come to a close leaving behind a few less fish (the ones caught), a few fatter fish (the ones that got away), and a few too many Styrofoam bait containers along our mostly pristine shorelines. Like us, fish like their food fresh. They like their meat red and juicy. So by all means in whatever season you fish, check the expiration date on the bait containers in order to increase the chance of fattening up some fish and maybe even catching a few.

However, you might ask, why are worms with a relatively short shelf life packed into Styrofoam containers that will resist decomposition for possibly hundreds of years? Of special concern are those Styrofoam containers that are accidently or purposely left on some stream, river, or lake –in the home of millions of fish and along our treasured and otherwise scenic shorelines.

With the new upcoming legislature (Feb 2009) facing many large challenges, maybe we can offer a small challenge for them to tackle and mount. They can then tell their constituents about the one that did not get away. Consider passing a less littered waterway to your children, family, and friends by asking your local and state officials to support the following:

Hunters Anglers Trappers Association (HAT) has had a request in front of the legislative Fish & Wildlife Committee for two years requesting that terrestrial (worms and night crawlers) bait can only be sold in biodegradable (not Styrofoam) containers.

This is a request coming from sportsmen themselves. I suspect most willingly abide by a leave nothing (including litter) behind policy but we need some help from our legislature to close the gaps.

The total cost of the new recommended containers that H.A.T. identified is .08 cents, roughly equivalent to the added costs we accept to keep cans and bottles off our highways.

Contact the Fish and Wildlife committee chairperson and or your local legislature to promote this recommendation.

Remember the shelf life of fish bait versus the container. Fish unlike humans, are not influenced by a product’s packaging. Fish do like their food fresh. The bait only stays fresh in a store for a few months at best no matter what it is packaged in. Why should we feel it necessary to have worms in a container that might end up on a waterway for the next two generations of humans?

 Photos by Al Suasco -The Trash Paddler.

Litter free is a challenge to fight on many fronts. Fish and those who seek to catch them need your help. Please consider sending a letter to your state representative today.


Good points in the blog. One thing that comes to mind, that I’ve heard brought up before, is that sometimes such endeavors end up working against you. For example, if you were to mandate biodegradable worm containers, it may lead to anglers leaving MORE worm containers behind on the banks of streams and ponds, because they see the “biodegradable” stamp on the side and think “oh look, it’s going to disappear all by itself, so I don’t need to worry about taking it home and disposing of it in the garbage”. Even with biodegradable containers, they don’t degrade overnight, and can take several years to break down (versus 100’s of years for Styrofoam), so you still end up with litter, and possibly more litter than you did before, because people mistakenly think they can toss the containers and they will just magically disappear.
Often, the issue is better addressed with a multi-faceted approach that includes disincentives like higher fines for littering, and good outreach and education campaigns on not littering, possibly combined with a slow, indiscreet switch to alternative materials, but not portraying it as the solution to litter.
----------------------------------------------------------Shawn P. Good, Fisheries Biologist
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department
271 North Main St., Suite 215
Rutland, VT 05701-2423
802-786-3863 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 802-786-3863 end_of_the_skype_highlighting