The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) applauded the February 14, 2012, decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to reject a second sweeping petition to ban lead in all fishing tackle.
The petition, which was submitted on November 16, 2011, by the Center for Biological Diversity and two other groups, requested that the EPA study and ultimately ban lead in fishing tackle on all U.S. waters under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This most recent attempt to federally ban lead fishing tackle came on the heels of the EPA’s November 2010 decision to dismiss a similar petition submitted by the same groups. That decision is currently being challenged in court by the petitioners.
Sweeping regulation of lead fishing tackle would have a significant, negative impact on recreational anglers and the sportfishing industry with minimal benefit to the environment. In dismissing this most recent petition, the EPA stated that the petitioners did not “provide a basis for finding that the risk presented is an unreasonable risk for which federal action under section 6(a) of TSCA is necessary.” The EPA also cited state-specific actions and the increasing education and outreach activities being undertaken.
The EPA’s decision falls in line with sound fish and wildlife management practices and several scientific studies which demonstrate that waterfowl populations are not negatively impacted by the use of lead fishing tackle.
“The sportfishing industry applauds the EPA’s dismissal of this most recent petition,” said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson. “Such an extensive ban is not only unwarranted, but is wildly unpopular. Sweeping regulations on lead fishing tackle would have a tremendous impact on the sportfishing industry and change the face, and cost, of recreational fishing for the angling public. Thousands of anglers submitted comments in opposition to this petition and I am glad to see that their voices were heard. Unjustified bans will only serve to harm the economy and reduce participation in traditional outdoor sports.”
“The EPA’s decision reaffirms that lead fishing tackle is not harming waterfowl populations,” Robertson further noted. “America’s anglers are the original conservationists, committed to taking reasonable steps to protect the environment. Through fishing license fees and the federal excise tax on fishing equipment, anglers and the sportfishing industry provide the bulk of the funding to help ensure that there are healthy and abundant fisheries to enjoy. The EPA recognized this fact with its dismissal of this second petition.”
“With anti-fishing organizations trying to stop recreational fishing using whatever means they can, legislation is necessary to protect our sport from overregulation,” Robertson said. “Legislation currently pending before Congress, the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act, will put a stop to these onerous petitions and protect these cherished pastimes.”
The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act (S. 838/H.R. 1558) seeks to prevent a federal ban on lead in recreational fishing tackle and ammunition and helps to ensure that any future regulations on fishing tackle are established based on scientific fact instead of unjustified petitions. This bipartisan legislation was introduced by the co-chairs of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.
In general, bird populations, including loons and other waterfowl species, are subject to many more substantial threats such as habitat loss through shoreline development, waste and other pollutants. Any lead restrictions on fishing tackle need to be based on sound science that supports the appropriate action for a particular water body or species.
Depending on the alternative metal and current prevailing raw material costs, non-lead fishing tackle products can cost from nine to 20 times more than lead products. Non-lead products may not be as available and most do not perform as well.
America’s 60 million anglers generate more than $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy, creating employment for more than one million people.
To learn more about this issue and to support Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act, visit www.KeepAmericaFishing.org.