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Fishing Litter

Fishing litter (hooks, weights, line) causes injury and death to thousands of wild animals every year:

  • Hooks can become embedded in - or even pierce - the skin;
  • Hooks, line and weights can be swallowed, causing internal blockages, injury and poisoning;
  • Line can wrap around an animal, cutting off the blood supply;
  • Wildlife entangled in line may suffer a slow death due to starvation.  


Swans and fishing litter

Cygnet with fishing litter injury

Swans are the most common wild bird admitted to our wildlife centres, large numbers as a result of fishing litter. The number of swans admitted to our wildlife centres as a result of angling equipment more than tripled during the summer of last year.
 

A report for the Environment Agency estimated that we and other groups attend around 3,000 swans injured by fishing litter in Britain each year.


Tackling the issue 

Tawny owls caught in fishing line
Tawny owl caught in fishing line.

Angling organisations and the Environment Agency have produced codes of practice to encourage responsible behaviour.


We’ve joined forces with the Angling Trust, the Environment Agency and the National Swan Convention (NSC) to tackle the problem. 


What can you do?

  • Take unwanted fishing line home home and cut it into small pieces before putting it in the bin.
  • Be aware of surrounding trees – line caught in foliage can entangle wildlife.
  • Don’t leave baited tackle unattended – remove bait from the hook and put the tackle in a safe place.
  • Use a bait box.
  • Help keep your local river, canal or coastline litter-free. Dispose safely of any rubbish you see, even if it is not your own! 
  • Put up our Fishing Litter poster (PDF 168KB) to raise awareness

If you see an injured wild animal, call us on 0300 1234 999.

Fishing hook removed from mute swan
Fishing hook removed from mute swan.

For more information:


A review of mute swan admissions at RSPCA Stapeley Grange wildlife centre:

Kelly, A. and Kelly, S. (2004) Fishing tackle injury and blood lead levels in Mute swans. Waterbirds 27(1):60-68.  
 

Relevant documents