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Activist Plastic Fisherman Brings Festival to Surfside's Annual Earth Day Resource Fair

Oct 19, 2023

“We have always needed the sea to survive, but now, it’s the sea that needs us.”
– Rodrigo Butori, @plasticfisherman

As the dangers of plastic pollution continue to threaten our marine life and beach ecosystems, South Florida is on notice. New residents, along with the state’s primary economic driver, tourism, continue to put an ever-growing strain on natural resources.

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, an estimated 10 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Once exposed to the elements, plastic breaks down further into microplastics, which are made of particles smaller than five millimeters in size and thus represent an ever bigger threat to marine life. For this reason, it is imperative that plastic stays off the beach and that any debris is properly removed; but, why not have some fun with it?

For Surfside resident, environmentalist, and surfer Rodrigo Butori, the #plasticfishing movement aims to do just that. Started in 2020 organically on social media, the @plasticfisherman account has quickly racked up more than 19,000 followers on Instagram, employing art and creativity to create awareness about the marine plastic pollution problem and inspire action. 

The concept is simple: pick up plastic on the beach, use a handful of pieces to create an ephemeral work of art, a plastic fish – take a photo and tag it with #plasticfishing on social media to amplify the movement and the message. Then, clean it all up and dispose of it properly. The result? Less plastic on the beach, social engagement, and joining a global community of plastic fishermen and women. 

"The idea was that if we don’t pay attention to the marine plastic pollution problem and find a solution for it very soon, these plastic fish would be the kind of fish our seas will have. How about that? Plastic will become our ocean’s number one species. The ocean should be for fish, not plastic,” Butori tells the Surfside Gazette.

This year, Butori  is partnering with the Town for an exciting new joint venture, the Plastic Fishing Earth Day Festival and Resource Fair, presented by the Tourist Board and Parks and Recreation.

Already a staple Earth Day event in its own right, the Festival encourages participants to make their best plastic fish of the day. In addition to art, creativity, and conservation, the Plastic Fishing Festival will feature Miami-Dade County’s Sea Turtle Program and Ocean Rescue Alliance International as event partners. Attendees can also expect custom gear, live music at the Community Center fair, and a variety of prizes and vendors.

“Plastic Fisherman thrives with the power of community. More than ten thousand plastic fish 'catches' submitted from all over the world prove we can make a difference together. That’s super inspiring because it shows that you aren’t alone. That seemingly small action you took by cleaning up the beach, combined with millions of other small actions, can have a huge impact,” said Butori.

“As a Surfside resident, I’m thrilled to partner with the Town this year. While Surfside’s beach is relatively clean, I see our community as a poster child for marine plastic pollution awareness. Hopefully, this movement, driven by love for the ocean and creativity, can inspire other communities to start plastic fishing,” he added.

To put your plastic fishing skills to the test, join us for the Plastic Fishing and Earth Day Resource Fair beginning at 10 a.m. on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22 at 93rd Street Beach. Stay tuned to @visitsurfside and @plasticfisherman on Instagram to learn more!

What: Plastic Fishing Festival and Earth Resource Fair When: April 22, 2023Where: 9301 Collins AvenueTime: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

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