The sportfishing industry has submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting that the petition to ban lead in all fishing gear be denied. The petition, which was filed on August 23, by the Center for Biological Diversity and four other organizations, cites the impact on waterbirds as the main reason for the requested ban. Also submitting requests for denial are the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. In addition to the proposed ban on lead fishing gear, the petition also requested a ban on lead in ammunition for the hunting and the shooting sports. The EPA denied that petition on August 27, 2010.
A similar petition to ban lead in fishing tackle was presented to the EPA in 1992. In 1994, EPA abandoned its proposed rule after finding that the impact of lead did not present a threat to any bird population; that the economic impact was significant; and that the proposed rule was socially unacceptable.
"Each of those findings remains valid today," said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson. "The petitioners have presented little credible evidence to suggest that lead in recreational fishing products is threatening the health of either humans or wildlife. Substantive evidence about the impact of lead on waterbird populations - a central theme of the petition - is glaringly absent."
In addition, the petition:
• Significantly underestimates the economic impact of removing all lead from fishing tackle on the sportfishing industry and the American recreational fishing public.
• Seriously overstates the availability and practicality of most alternatives to lead recreational fishing products.
• Fails to recognize that state fish and wildlife agencies are the proper regulatory authorities to address instances of documented waterbird mortality.
"The petitioners claim that there are many comparable alternative materials that will minimize the social and economic impacts of a lead ban," noted Robertson. "Steel, tin and tungsten are the only suitable alternatives to lead in fishing tackle and they have limitations in performance, application and price. Tin- and tungsten-based fishing gear could cost ten to twenty times more than their lead counterparts."
"Since 1933 the sportfishing industry has strongly supported administrative and legislative initiatives that support clean water and healthy and abundant fish populations," said Robertson. "We continue to stand behind such measures, especially those that remove health-threatening pollutants from our waterways. Lead in its manufactured form in recreational fishing equipment poses little to no harm to the environment. We want citizens to know that lead in fishing equipment also poses a minute health risk for humans and waterbird populations."
Robertson concluded, "Members of the hunting community spoke out against the petition with a positive outcome. We are proud that thousands of anglers have already submitted comments to the EPA opposing this unjustified petition. We encourage all anglers to let their voices be heard demonstrating that the American angling public does not support the petitioners' unreasonable request."
Comments to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Members of Congress may be made submitted through www.KeepAmericaFishing.org.