Fishing line harm to animals in Australia

Authors: Mcphee, D.P, Leadbitter, D, and Skilleter, G
Journal: Pacific Conservation Biology Vol 8: 40-51
Year: 2002
Where: (1) University of Queensland, Australia (2) Marine Stewardship Council, United Kingdom

This study found an appalling number of other animals that sea anglers injure and kill with their discarded fishing line and hooks:

  • dolphins
  • turtles
  • sea birds
  • mammals
Turtles, birds, and mammals are also at risk from being struck by anglers’ boats.


dolphin fish ecology cruelty "The most significant pollution problem from recreational fishing arises from discarded fishing line that can entangle a variety of animals including dolphins and several seabird species (Laist 1987, 1997)."

"An initial census by the Australian Seabird Rescue Group in the Richmond River (New South Wales) revealed that of the 108 resident Australian Pelicans, 37 were suffering injuries from being entangled or hooked by fishing tackle. Subsequent studies in the region have shown that of all the human induced injuries to the Australian Pelican, 92% were from entanglement in fishing line (Australian Seabird Rescue Group, unpubl. data). Wells et al. (1998) concluded that, although often overlooked, the number of deaths or serious injuries to Bottlenose Dolphins in Florida from recreational fishing, particularly entanglement in discarded fishing line, could exceed that from the region’s commercial net fisheries."


turtle fish ecology cruelty "Anglers may interact with marine turtles, mammals and seabirds causing injury and sometimes death through ingestion of baited hooks and fishing line, entanglement in crabpots and fishing line, and being struck by recreational fishing vessels. Boat strike is the single biggest cause of marine turtle mortality in Queensland (Haines et al. 2001)."
Haines, J. A., Limpus, C. J. and Flakus, S., 2000. Marine Wildlife Stranding and Mortality Database Annual Report, 1999. III Marine Turtles. Unpublished Queensland Parks and Wildlife Report. 32 Pp.
Laist, D. W, 1987. Overview of the biological effects of lost and discarded plastic debris in the marine environment. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 18(6B): 319-26.
Laist, D. W., 1997. Impacts of marine debris: Entanglement of marine life in marine debris including a comprehensive list of species with entanglement and ingestion records. Pp. 99-119 in Marine Debris: Sources, Impacts, and Solutions ed by j. M. Coe and D. B. Rogers. Springer, New York.
Wells, R. S., Hofmann, S. and Moors, T. L., 1998. Entanglement and mortality of bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, in recreational fishing gear in Florida. FISh. Bull. 96: 647-50

Fish Pain