Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stop the unfounded pending ban on lead used in fishing

Responding to a grassroots outcry from gun owners, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has denied a petition to ban lead-based ammunition. The agency explained in a news release that it "does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)...nor is the agency seeking such authority."

That petition sought not only a ban on lead-based ammunition, but a ban on lead sinkers and lures used in fishing. When the EPA announced that it did not have authority to ban lead ammunition, the petitioners amended their petition to address only lead used by fishermen.

Insufficient evidence exists to warrant any restriction on lead sinkers used for fishing. Habitat loss is a greater threat to waterfowl than lead sinkers. Before laws or regulations are enacted to restrict lead sinkers for fishing - sufficient data must exist to demonstrate that discarded or lost lead sinkers are an actual threat.

Non-lead fishing tackle products can cost from 6 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 unreasonable changes from both the industry and anglers.

Lead shot was banned for waterfowl hunting several years ago due to lead-poisoning concerns. That lead-poisoning concern is inherently different from the use of lead sinkers in fishing. One single shell shot over water expends approximately 225 to 430 small lead pellets into the water. Over the course of a waterfowl season, millions of lead pellets may be introduced to a body of water. This in turn leads to an increased chance of dabbling ducks, and other water birds, mistakenly ingesting the lead pellets as they select small rocks or grit to assist with their digestive process. In contrast, it is not predetermined that any lead fishing sinkers will be left in the water whatsoever, although it is likely that a few will be lost over the course of a season. Fishing sinkers are reusable and unless the line snags on an obstruction or is broken by a fish, the lead is typically not left in the body of water -- the fisherman saves it for future fishing trips. As a result, the opportunity for ingestion of lead sinkers by water birds is greatly lessened by virtue of there being far fewer lead sinkers introduced to the body of water as compared to lead from bird hunters' shotguns.

Lead is a naturally occurring element mined from the Earth. In virtually all cases, lead which is returned to the Earth from whence it came by fishermen is in such small levels as to be of no reasonable concern.

I urge the rejection of any petition to ban the use of lead in fishing tackle.

I urge all who are concerned by this unreasonable ban to research the issue and post ther comments with the EPA prior to 15 Sep 2010.

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