Anti-fishing groups try again to ban lead

Sportfishing community calls for dismissal of petition

Lead weights are once again the focus of anti-fishing groups' attention.
Laurie Tisdale
Lead weights are once again the focus of anti-fishing groups' attention.

About the author

Tyler Reed

Tyler Reed

Tyler Reed is the social media and B.A.S.S. Nation editor for B.A.S.S. Keep up with B.A.S.S. on Facebook and Twitter.

Anti-fishing groups have again petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate the manufacture and sale of lead fishing tackle. The sportfishing industry has responded with the introduction of the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act.

On Nov. 16, the Center for Biological Diversity and two other anti-fishing groups petitioned the EPA to regulate the manufacture and sale of lead fishing tackle of certain sizes and uses under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). If approved, such a regulation could result in a de facto ban of lead sinkers, jigs and other popular types of fishing equipment.

This request comes on the heels of a similar petition that the EPA dismissed in November 2010. The original petition also sought to ban lead hunting and shooting ammunition, which is exempted from regulation under TSCA. In dismissing the original petition, the EPA indicated that the “petitioners have not demonstrated that the requested rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, as required by the TSCA.”

“It is disappointing and frustrating that the Center of Biological Diversity and others continue to abuse the system and beat on the EPA for what is basically a lightly veiled attempt to further their anti-fishing agenda — an attempt devoid of adequate scientific data,” said Noreen Clough, national conservation director for B.A.S.S. “I am convinced that the only solution is going to have to be legislative.”

“The sportfishing community is once again asking the EPA to rule on the side of scientific fish and wildlife population management and dismiss this unwarranted petition,” said Gordon Robertson, vice president of According to American Sportfishing Association (ASA), in a press release, Dec. 6. “Such regulations will have a significant, negative impact on recreational anglers and the sportfishing industry, yet the petitioners lack credible science to back such a far-reaching request. They claim lead is threatening loons across the nation, but several studies, including one by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have shown that loon populations are either stable or increasing throughout most of their range.”

“This further demonstrates the need for a legislative solution to this growing threat to recreational fishing,” Robertson added. “In response, the co-chairs of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus have introduced the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act, which would prevent an overreaching ban of lead fishing tackle. With anti-fishing organizations trying to over-regulate fishing using whatever means they can, legislation is needed to protect traditional fishing tackle and ammunition from unjustified bans that will harm the economy and reduce participation in outdoor activities.”

ASA will soon post suggested comments on Keep America Fishing’s website that anglers can send to EPA in opposition of the anti-lead petition. Last year, more than 43,000 sent their objections to EPA through Keep America Fishing.

“The sportfishing industry applauds the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus for its leadership and for so powerfully addressing an issue that urgently needs a dose of common sense,” said Robertson.

Two of the three petitioners are currently engaged in a lawsuit against the EPA’s dismissal of the original petition to ban lead fishing tackle. “The petitioners are taking advantage of our federal government, ignoring the decision that the EPA made just a year ago and working around the ongoing litigation that they filed shortly after that decision,” said Robertson. “This is a gaming of the system, and ASA urges the EPA to deny the most recent petition and asks all anglers to voice their support for the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act.”

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