Open letter to Connecticut legislators from B.A.S.S.

Jan. 27, 2011

Open letter to: Honorable Edward Meyer, Connecticut State Senator, Environment Committee Co-Chair;
Honorable Andrew Maynard, Connecticut State Senator and Environment Committee Vice Chair;
Honorable Andrew Roraback, Connecticut State Senator, Environment Committee Ranking Member;
Honorable Richard Roy, Connecticut State General Assembly, Environment Committee Co-Chair;
Honorable Paul Davis, Connecticut State Assemblyman and Environment Committee Vice Chair;
Honorable Clark Chapin, Connecticut State Assembly Ranking Member Gentlemen:

On behalf of the more than 500,000 members of Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) nationwide, who, in addition to being avid anglers, remain focused on issues related to aquatic resource conservation, I am writing to urge you to oppose S.B. 59, which would ban the sale and use of lead fishing sinkers and jigs throughout your state.

This legislation places unnecessary, unwarranted and severe regulations on recreational fishing tackle, which will have a significant negative impact on Connecticut's anglers. On November 4, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected a petition to ban all lead fishing tackle on all U.S. waters, stating that the petitioners did not demonstrate that such a ban is "necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment."

The ban proposed by S.B. 59 is likewise unjustified. Any lead restrictions need to be based on scientific data that supports the appropriate action for a particular water body or species. The impact on loons and other waterfowl is the most often cited reason for bans on lead fishing tackle, yet Connecticut does not support a breeding loon population.

Further, in Connecticut the wintering grebe populations are isolated to a few select waterways. Waterfowl populations in Connecticut are subject to much more substantial threats such as habitat loss, predation by domestic and feral pets and other wildlife and water quality problems. While supporters of this legislation claim that there are many comparable alternatives to lead sinkers and jigs, this is not the case.

Depending on the alternative metal and current prevailing raw material costs, non-lead fishing tackle products can cost from six to 20 times more than lead products. Non-lead products may not be as available and most do not perform as well. Mandatory transitioning to non-lead fishing tackle would require significant — and costly — changes by anglers. The resultant decrease in fishing tackle purchases will reduce the dollars available for fisheries conservation provided through the federal manufacturers' excise tax on fishing equipment, as well as reduce the state's income from fishing license sales.

Fisheries management capabilities diminish as a result. On behalf of B.A.S.S. and its members, I urge you to oppose S.B. 59. It will have a significant and unjustified negative impact on Connecticut's recreational fishing community, and on the state's funding for fisheries management, while having only a negligible, if any, positive impact on the waterfowl populations it presumes to protect. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Sincerely, Noreen K. Clough
Conservation Director