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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. At its core, this project tackles the critical issue of marine debris, with a primary emphasis on derelict fishing gear. Through a multi-faceted approach, we aim to reduce the presence of devastating marine 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 rampant pollution of plastic waste, which persists for centuries. The devastating consequences of abandoned fishing gear, such as entanglement and death of aquatic wildlife, highlight the urgent need for action. The Critical Catch seeks to combat these issues head-on, recognizing that our actions today impact the survival of countless species and the ecosystems they rely on.


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 of body part

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 toxicity in birds



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

Habitat Degradation






To address the problem of marine debris entering the aquatic ecosystem, Critical Catch, in conjunction with our other program Divert and Capture, hosts Shoreline clean-ups in targeted recreational and known fishing Pathways, thus removing pollutants before the debris has a chance to break down into microplastics or pose a threat to the local wildlife.

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

If you are interested in participating in a shoreline clean up visit our event page to learn about how to get involved.


if you’d like support in planning a cleanup, contact Ashley Morrison at


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-size 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 to the proper facilities, as monofilament fishing line cannot be recycled through municipal waste programs. It requires specialized facilities to recycle or reuse this material; to address this issue, all of the monofilament we collect through our receptacles will be shipped to Berkley Conservation for processing:


Berkley Recycling

1900 18th Street

Spirit Lake, Iowa 51360

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

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Through classroom engagement and outreach events, we educate children, anglers, businesses, and community members about the perils of marine debris. We aim to instill a conservation ethos 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.

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Get Involed

Join us in the fight against 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 for the sake of current and future generations. Stand with us as we make a tangible impact on the health of our waters and the species that depend on them.


Thank you

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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