Efforts to Ban Lead in Fishing Tackle
Over the past decade, efforts to eliminate the sale and use of lead fishing tackle, including sinkers, jigs and more have increased. In fall 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected a petition to ban lead in all fishing tackle. In 2011, the petitioners filed a lawsuit against the EPA in an attempt to force the ban and have since filed a new similar petition, which was also dismissed. Sweeping regulation of lead fishing tackle would have a significant negative impact on recreational anglers and fisheries resources, but a negligible impact on conserving waterfowl populations, the main reason cited by supporters of such bans.
In response to the increasing attempts to overregulate fishing tackle, the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act was introduced in Congress. This legislation will ensure that any future regulations on fishing tackle are established based on scientific data, not unjustified petitions. Please ask your Members of Congress to support this important legislation, which will prevent a federal ban on lead fishing tackle.
On August 23, 2010, the EPA was petitioned by the Center for Biological Diversity and four other organizations to ban all lead in fishing tackle and ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This included sinkers, jigs, weighted fly line, and components that contain lead such as brass and ballast in a wide variety of lures, including spinners, stick baits and more. Four days later, the EPA denied the petition for ammunition because it is exempted under the TSCA.
On November 4, 2010, the EPA rejected the petition to ban lead in all fishing tackle. Opposition from anglers was strong; over 43,000 anglers sent comments requesting dismissal of the petition to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson through KeepAmericaFishing™.
Despite the EPA’s findings that a national ban is scientifically unjustified and outside the agency’s jurisdiction; the petitioners are currently challenging this decision in court. On November 16, 2011, the petitioners submitted a new similar petition. This most recent petition was also rejected by the agency.
The recent increase in anti-fishing efforts to ban lead fishing tackle demonstrates the need to legislatively protect one of our nation’s greatest pastimes from unwarranted and burdensome regulation.
The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act
Despite the EPA’s findings that a national ban is scientifically unjustified and outside the agency’s jurisdiction; the petitioners are currently challenging this decision in court and continue to submit new and similar petitions, demonstrating the need to legislatively protect one of our nation’s greatest pastimes from unwarranted and burdensome regulation.
On April 14, 2011, the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act (S. 838 and H.R. 1558) was introduced by the chairs of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus - Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and John Thune (R-SD) and Representatives Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Mike Ross (D-AR). This legislation will prevent a federal ban on lead in recreational fishing tackle by clarifying the TSCA exemption for ammunition and establishing a similar exemption for fishing tackle. The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act will put an end to attempts to overregulate the recreational fishing and hunting industries and protect the rights of anglers and hunters who choose to sustainably enjoy their sports.
The reasons to support such legislation are:
- The data does not support a federal ban on lead sinkers used for fishing.
- A federal ban of the use of lead in fishing tackle will have a significant negative impact on recreational anglers and fisheries resources, but a negligible impact on waterfowl populations. Depending on the alternative metal and current prevailing raw material costs, non-lead fishing tackle products can cost from ten to twenty times more than lead products.
- America's 60 million anglers generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation's economy, creating employment for over one million people.
A less restrictive ban was proposed in 1992, which the EPA later abandoned after finding that lead had no significant impact on waterbird populations; that the economic impact would be significant; and that the proposed rule was socially unacceptable.
No Impact on Loons and Waterbird Populations
Substantial threats such as habitat loss, predation, disease and environmental toxins, all have a much more significant impact on waterbird populations than ingestion of lead fishing tackle.
Lead is used in nearly all types of fishing. Products made of different metals have significant cost and/or performance issues; some alternatives may even be twenty times more expensive. Before further laws or policies are enacted to restrict the use lead sinkers on our nation's waters, requiring anglers to make costly changes, sufficient data must exist to demonstrate that lost lead sinkers are an actual threat to the sustainability of loons or other wildlife populations. A national ban on the use of lead in fishing tackle will have a significant negative impact on recreational anglers and fisheries resources, but a negligible impact on the loon and waterbird populations that it seeks to protect.
Voluntary Angler Actions
America's anglers are conservationists first and foremost, having paid nearly $6 billion since 1950 for fisheries conservation, and have a long history of making sacrifices for the betterment of the resources.
KeepAmericaFishing™ encourages anglers to use the sinker or jig of their choice and to take these voluntary steps to minimize the probability of losing fishing tackle into the water:
- Use sufficiently strong fishing line and leaders when fishing with sinkers and jigs
- Make sure to tie lures and jigs using strong knots
- Tightly crimp split-shot weights using pliers
- Discard all unusable fishing tackle, such as line, hooks and sinkers, in proper trash receptacles and never dump into the water or shore
For more information, read the American Sportfishing Association's (ASA) scientific review on this issue.