California lead ban attempt

Sacramento, Calif. – California anglers have won a skirmish in their battle to prevent a  ban on lead weights, but the war is far from over. That’s why the coalition that leads the opposition needs bass fishermen and others to join the cause.

“Anglers can claim a big victory, but we need to continue to communicate to legislators the importance of protecting recreational fishing’s future,” said Marko Mlikotin, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing League (CSL). “Proponents of banning lead fishing tackle will not give up, even if there is no science to justify it.”

With more than 5,000 anglers signing CSL’s “Stop the Fishing Tackle Ban,” the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Substances recently amended the bill before passing it along in the legislative process. Assembly Bill 2787 now calls for a study on the potential effects of lead on California wildlife, instead of an outright ban.

“While we appreciate the author’s willingness to amend the bill and work with the angling community, the bill has not earned our support – not yet,” added Mlikotin. “The study, as defined by the author, is overly broad and could be contracted out to an anti-fishing organization, instead of an objective government agency.”

As originally proposed by Assemblyman Bill Quirk of Hayward, the bill would have imposed a ban on fishing weights under 50 grams (1.7637 ounces) in mass, which would have eliminated those used for bass fishing. Also included would have been any item that contains more than 0.1 percent lead by weight.

There is no science that justifies banning fishing weights found in nearly every California angler’s tackle box,” said CSL. “Increasing costs and regulations have had a devastating impact on the state’s fishing participation rate, and funding for conservation programs dependent on fishing license sales.”

As one small example, a resident California sportfishing license costs $48.34, compared to $25 for New York and $10.50 for Arkansas.

Since 1980, license sales have declined by more than 56 percent, while the state’s population has increased by nearly 60 percent.

“The dramatic decline in fishing participation should be a wakeup call for California anglers and state politicians,” said Mlikotin.

“If the state recognizes recreational fishing’s economic value, it will need to take immediate action to stop a rapidly-declining participation rate from turning into an out-of-control death spiral. Reforming a costly and antiquated licensing program, and lifting unwarranted restrictions on fishing, is the first step to protecting a great form of family recreation that supports jobs and our state’s economy.”

And a lead ban would be just one more of those “unwarranted restrictions.”

To sign the petition opposing a ban on lead weights, anglers can go here. And to voice their opinions regarding AB 2787 and other rules and regulations that restrict sport fishing, they can contact their state assemblymen and senators through this link.

They can join CFL at this site.

“I would also encourage non-Californians to contact legislators in California with the idea that a lead ban means lost tourism,” said B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director Gene Gilliland.  

Indeed, loss of tourism is part of the “death spiral,” that CSL warns about, including loss of revenue for fishery/conservation programs, state/local tax revenue and jobs.