For $10 you can eat as much pancakes, bacon and home fries as you can handle, and help make Destin a cleaner, safer place for wildlife.



Destin Forward, an educational and leadership program for business professionals through the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce, is teaming up with local restaurant, The Fisherman’s Wharf, to raise money for a new fishing line recycling program in Destin.



Destin Forward Member Alison McDowell, who is a Marine Scientist for Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, explained that Destin Forward is an annual class that invites professionals from all industries to participate in educational efforts focused on environmental, tourism, and governmental issues.



“Every year they choose a worthy project that will benefit the community and the environment,” said McDowell.



This year, the Destin Forward group plans to create and implement a Monofilament Recycling and Recovery Program.  The MRRP is a statewide program created to educate the public on the detriment of leaving monofilament fishing line in the environment, and to encourage recycling of the product.



“Everyone in the class had different ideas, but this one really captured everybody’s imagination,” said McDowell. “The group recognized it impacts our fishing industry, the environment, and our tourism industry.”



Debbie Wingfield, a Wildlife Health Technician for Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge, explained that fishing line is dangerous and often deadly to birds and marine animals in Destin.



“About 30 percent of our patients are due to entanglements and fishing hooks,” Wingfield said, “I think we get an entangled bird at least once a week.”



Wingfield further explained that fishing line is so translucent and strong that animals easily get caught in it, and are often killed in the process of trying to free themselves.



“The people just cut their lines, and the animals just get tangled up in them,” she said.



Since the recycling program’s inception, over 40 Florida counties have implemented monofilament recycling by way of plastic PBC pipes along boardwalks and beaches. Volunteers empty the bins and mail the fishing line to a company in Iowa, who then recycles the product into useable items such as fishing spools and tackle boxes.



“From talking to people in other areas it’s very successful,” said McDowell of the recycling program. “It takes someone who is committed to overseeing it. It takes several moving parts and I think this is really an opportunity for the community to be involved.”



Wingfield was optimistic of the proposed program saying, “Even if they were not the ones who left it behind, seeing the collection containers would remind people of the importance of doing all they can to help.”



Destin Forward members hope to launch the recycling program on April 22, and will use all proceeds from the pancake breakfast to fund educational materials, signage and construction of the bins.



“It is an educational campaign,” McDowell said, “We will be speaking to elementary and middle-school students to educate them on it, as well as create an opportunity for people to take action.”



EAT PANCAKES, SAVE THE BIRDS



A Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser and Raffle will be held March 16, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Fisherman’s Wharf. Proceeds from the event will fund a new fishing line recycling program in Destin. For tickets call Editor and Destin Forward member William Hatfield at The Log at 654-8448 or visit The Destin Log office at 35008 Emerald Coast Parkway across from Lowe’s. You can also by tickets at the door.



For more information on Florida’s Monofilament recycling & recovery program Visit:



http://mrrp.myfwc.com/