Skip to comments.EPA rejects proposed ban on lead sinkers, fishing tackle
Posted on 11/04/2010 4:20:30 PM PDT by jazusamo
A proposal to ban lead fishing tackle to protect birds and other wildlife has been shot down by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The decision was immediately praised by fishing groups worried lead substitutes would cost more and be less effective in catching fish.
Jim Hutchinson, of the Galloway Township-based Recreational Fishing Alliance, said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson made the right decision.
"We're certainly happy with the EPA. It will be helpful in this tough economy for tackle shops, charter boats, and individual anglers. An outright ban would have just kept fishermen off the water, and that's ridiculous," Hutchinson said.
The decision was criticized by the American Bird Conservancy, one of the environmental groups that petitioned for the ban. Dr. Michael Fry, conservation advocate with the ABC and an avian toxicologist, said the EPA has "lost its will to regulate." Fry noted that two weeks ago the EPA took part in a "Lead Poisoning Prevention Week" with the Centers for Disease Control.
"Now the EPA has apparently completely abdicated its responsibility for regulating toxic lead in circumstances where wildlife is being poisoned. The refusal to participate in regulating lead as it poisons wildlife while at the same time promoting prevention of lead poisoning is unbelievable," Fry said.
The government has taken lead out of gasoline, paint, water pipes, toys, tire balancing weights, and some types of hunting ammunition. In 1991 lead shot was banned for waterfowl hunting.
Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity, another group petitioning for the ban, said its time to expand the prohibition in light of studies showing swans, loons, snow geese, brown pelicans and other birds are ingesting lead sinkers. Just last week a mute swan in Lower Township was found with a fish hook in its bill with a lead sinker still attached.
Hutchinson said ingestion of lead is mainly a problem in freshwater areas where sinkers used are much smaller than the ones saltwater anglers are using.
"Eight to 12 ounce sinkers are not killing the loons," Hutchinson said.
Fishing groups have expressed willingness to phase in lead substitutes, which can include ceramics, glass, stainless steel, bismuth, tungsten, brass and other materials.
"Manufacturers are working on alternatives. We're held back by what is available from national manufacturers," Hutchinson said.
The RFA argues that under a ban tackle shots would lose much of their inventory. Lead is used in buck-tails, jigs, lures, split-shot, spinners and weighted fly-fishing line and is even a component in some reels. Anglers would face the same dilemma.
"You'd have to start your whole tackle box from scratch again," Hutchinson said.
Another problem is many anglers make their own tackle. Lead, because it is relatively cheap and easy to melt and mold, is the preferred material. Hutchinson said there are no alternatives for these anglers.
The EPA in a letter on Thursday told the American Bird Conservancy it had not demonstrated a national ban on lead fishing gear was necessary to "protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment," a requirement under the Toxic Substances Control Act or TSCA. The letter said a ban has not been demonstrated as "the least burdensome alterative" under TSCA guidelines.
The EPA noted some headway was being made, including more limits on lead use and more lead substitutes in the marketplace.
"There are an increasing number of limitations on the use of lead in fishing gear on some federal lands, as well as federal outreach efforts. A number of states have established regulations that ban or restrict the use of lead sinkers and have created state education and fishing tackle exchange programs over the last decade," the letter states.
Fry said the petition demonstrated the need for a regulation, due to effects on wildlife, and it is up to the EPA and not the petitioner to formulate the least burdensome alternative.
The ABC and other environmental groups had petitioned the agency Aug. 3 to use the TSCA to prohibit the "manufacture, processing, and distribution" of lead ammunition and fishing gear. The EPA on Aug. 27 denied the request for lead shot and bullets and said it would make a decision by Oct. 31 on fishing gear.
When that decision did not come, the RFA worried it would be postponed by the Obama Administration until after the Nov. 2 mid-term elections but then would be approved.
With anglers already upset with the federal government over new fishing restrictions and mandates such as the ethanol gasoline that is destroying marine engines, he expected the worst. Hutchinson said the federal government has not been listening to coastal communities with a fishing tradition dating back three centuries. He was pleasantly surprised by the decision.
"They promised to listen to Main Street. It's not just Main Street, its Atlantic Avenue," Hutchinson said.
Shouldn’t even have been under consideration
Do they expect this fish to jump into your bucket?
Exactly, it’s a non issue to everyone but the enviro nazis.
And we should be happy about that? EPA should not even be involved in such questions.
I can’t believe it! Good call by the EPA. Birds are not eating lead weights anyway, nor are they eating lead bullets and shot which does NOT leech into the ground.
If they had their way, they would not want you to go fishing at all.
You’re exactly right. The example given by the enviro nazi in the article about the lead weight still on the line with the hook in the bill of a bird is typical of how nuts these people are. The bird wasn’t after the lead weight, it was after the bait on the hook.
I’ve no idea unless they were referring to anglers making there own lures and casting weights like was pointed out in another part of the piece.
Millions of fisherman like myself were going to ignore the (proposed) ban as well....
My thoughts exactly. Committee hearings.
Maybe the enviro nazis have been inhaling too much lead paint?
I remember Dr. Michael Fry from UC Davis. We worked in the same building and may have been in the same department.
I’m surprised at the EPA decision, especially since the EPA seems hellbent on regulating a naturally occurring gas. There are issues with lead—but until there are good alternatives, stopping its use should not be mandated.
The problem when a supposedly scientific agency is headed by a political appointee is that politics usually prevails over science.
You nailed the problem, the EPA has become mostly all about politics.
Yup. Lefty EPA knows the’re skating on thin ice now.
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