How Did It Start?
The project was conceived in 1993 in a small tackle shop in North Fort Myers (Lehr’s Economy Tackle) by two local fisherman (Larry Davis and Dave Westra), who discussed doing something about the deplorable problem of monofilament fishing line which had been discarded or left by careless fishermen especially in the mangrove areas. Davis and Westra were sure they could drum up volunteer support from local fishermen and boaters, but were in need of help in raising the funds necessary for such a project. The two came to KLCB seeking help with their cleanup idea and the Marine Cleanup project was born. KLCB is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization capable of coordinating such projects through community sponsor support. Sam Galloway agreed to provide a catered lunch to all volunteers who would come out on Marine Cleanup Day to clean up the mess. Other corporate leaders soon followed.
How Is The Cleanup’s Success Measured?
The ultimate goal, of course, is to eliminate the monofilament and trash problem, and the success of attaining that goal would be measured by the lack of the problem. Until then, we measure the cleanup’s success by the growing awareness and willingness of hundreds of volunteers to dedicate a Saturday to the cause.
What Is Found?
Nothing could have prepared us for the first Marine Cleanup day (October 29, 1993) when volunteers began unloading mounds of trash and huge tangles of monofilament line onto the dock at Tarpon Point Marina. As boat after boat pulled up to the dock, it became clear that the citizens of Lee County were very serious about cleaning up their beautiful waterways.