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The Critical Catch

Project Manager - Ashley Morrison 

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The Critical Catch is a dynamic initiative focused on the vital conservation and protection of aquatic and terrestrial species that are at risk due to discarded fishing lines and other equipment. This project tackles the critical issue of marine debris, with an emphasis on eradicating derelict fishing gear from the water. Through a multi-faceted approach, we aim to reduce the presence of harmful debris in our waters, engage the public, and foster a sense of stewardship among the community.

The health of our freshwater ecosystems is under threat from the devastating impact of abandoned fishing gear, made primarily from plastic, and which can cause serious harm to wildlife – such as entanglement and death. The Critical Catch seeks to combat these issues head-on, recognizing that our actions today impact the survival of countless species and the ecosystems on which they rely.


The Problem

Monofilament fishing line poses a significant threat to ecosystems in Georgian Bay. The material is non-biodegradable and can last for centuries. It is also nearly invisible, has high tensile strength, and is thin enough to become tangled and lost within vegetation, rocks, and other structures. This creates a compounding effect where wildlife can become trapped, seriously injured, or even killed by improperly discarded or mismanaged fishing lines. 

Impacts on Wildlife


Abandoned fishing line can entangle wildlife, leaving them vulnerable to predators, starvation, and drowning. As wildlife struggle to get free, the line becomes tighter, causing loss of circulation and increased risk of severing body parts.

Entanglement & 


Fish hooks can lodge inside the mouth, esophagus or stomach of wildlife, causing internal bleeding, digestion issues, tissue damage, pain, and death. When hooks or sinkers are made of lead, they can cause lead poisoning in birds, often resulting in death.



Nets, lines, and other gear can impede plant growth, obstruct water flow, and disturb the sediment and nutrients of water bodies. These changes limit spawning and nesting grounds, food sources, and shelter for fish and wildlife.

Habitat Degradation

The Solution


To address the problem of marine debris entering the aquatic ecosystem, The Critical Catch – in conjunction with our other program, Divert and Capture – hosts Shoreline Cleanups in targeted recreational and high-trafficked fishing pathways, thus removing pollutants before they have a chance to break down into microplastics and pose a threat to the local wildlife.

Through these shoreline clean-ups,  we are also able to educate the public as well as empower volunteers and communities to take responsibility for their environment by actively cleaning these natural spaces.

If you are interested in participating in a shoreline cleanup, or if you’d like support in planning a cleanup, contact


Ashley Morrison at

Or, sign up for our volunteers' mailing list for ongoing updates about volunteer opportunities in the spring and summer.


In an effort to support our local anglers, we are implementing a convenient and responsible way for people to dispose of their fishing line.


We are working with local marinas in Georgian Bay to install receptacles specifically designed to collect monofilament fishing line.


We have successfully installed 15 large receptacles in popular access points and fishing hotspots.


 Additionally, we are handing out free personal-sized receptacles to the public, providing a convenient way for people to safely store their fishing line while out fishing.

Find Our Receptacles Here


A major part of this program is ensuring that the monofilament we collect is recycled at the proper facilities. Monofilament fishing line cannot be recycled through municipal waste programs, and requires specialized facilities to recycle or reuse the material.


To address this issue, all the monofilament we collect through our receptacles will be shipped to

Berkley Conservation for processing.

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Look for monofilament recycling stations in your community, or you can collect your own line and send it to Berkley Conservation for processing.

Berkley Recycling

1900 18th Street

Spirit Lake, Iowa 51360


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Through classroom engagement and outreach events, we educate children, anglers, businesspeople, and community members about the perils of marine debris. We aim to instill a conservation-focused ethos in communities, and promote sustainable practices.


Working with the Georgian Triangle Anglers Association’s hatchery, we will be installing classroom hatchery programs within schools – allowing students to learn, watch, and care for Brooke Trout as they grow. By giving students unique access to nature, this program instills a sense of stewardship in future generations, encouraging a love of nature and awareness of its need for protection.

Get Involved

Join us in the fight against inorganic marine debris! Explore our website to find fishing receptacle locations, access personal monofilament recycling containers,

and participate in shoreline cleanups.


Download the Marine Debris Tracker app to help identify and remove ghost gear.


Engage with your environment responsibly, recognizing that every action you take contributes to the preservation of our natural world.


The Critical Catch is more than a project, it's a call to protect and restore our aquatic ecosystems. Stand with us as we make a discernible impact on the health of our waters and the species that depend on them.


Thank you to these funders who have

made this program possible:


Hodgson Family Foundation

Town of the Blue Mountains

Thank you to these funders who have made this program possible


The views expressed herein are solely those of Georgian Bay Forever.




The Weston Family Foundation
The Great Lakes Local Action Fund
The Township of The Archipelago
The Town of Collingwood
The Township of Georgian Bay
Georgian Bay Forever donors


We also want to thank these valuable partners:
The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority
Blue Mountain Watershed Trust
The University of Toronto Trash Team

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