Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

August 11, 2012

Is Texas in the sights of the environmentalist again?

New Hampshire Anglers Face Ban on Lead Fishing Tackle

A bill (SB 224) has been introduced in the New Hampshire State Senate to expand current restrictions on the use of lead sinkers and jigs in state waters by banning the use of any lead jig weighing one ounce or less. This comes on the heels of a 2010 decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that a federal ban on lead fishing tackle is unwarranted. An expanded ban on lead fishing tackle in New Hampshire will have a significant negative impact on the state’s recreational anglers and fisheries resources, but a negligible impact on the waterfowl populations that it seeks to protect. There is no scientific data to support such a ban. Finally, the SB 224 is so poorly written it is not clear whether it seeks to ban sinkers and jigs or any fishing lure weighted with lead one ounce or less. This could mean virtually all small fishing lures, including flies.

The Situation

New Hampshire was the first state to ban the use of lead sinkers. Legislation to do so was passed in 1998 (effective in 2000) and prohibits the use of lead sinkers in lakes and ponds up to one ounce and lead jigs up to one inch in length. The restrictions were later expanded to include all waters of the state. Now, despite rising loon populations and a dearth of supporting science, New Hampshire legislators are once again attempting to expand these unwarranted restrictions at the expense of anglers and the small tackle businesses that they support.

SB 224, introduced in the State Senate on January 4, seeks to expand restrictions on lead fishing jigs by banning the use of any lead jig weighing one ounce or less. This legislation poorly defines the term “lead jig” and could be interpreted to include spinner baits and just about any other popular fishing tackle.

If SB 224 passes, much of your tackle could become illegal and the cost of fishing in New Hampshire will be significantly greater.

The ban proposed by SB 224 is unjustified. The impact on loons and other waterfowl is the most often cited reason for bans on lead fishing tackle, yet New Hampshire loon populations are currently increasing throughout the state. Waterfowl populations in New Hampshire are subject to more substantial threats such as habitat loss, water acidification and domestic and wild predators. Any lead restrictions need to be based on scientific data that supports the appropriate action for a particular water body or species.

New Hampshire anglers generate almost $174 million annually in retail sales, with a $227 million impact on the state’s economy. Fishing tackle made from alternatives to lead can be much more expensive and do not perform as well. If anglers don’t act soon, the cost of fishing in New Hampshire may significantly increase.

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