Legislation Introduced To Prevent EPA Ban On Lead Tackle

The sportfishing community thanks Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) for introducing S.3850, legislation which seeks to prevent an overarching federal ban on lead in recreational fishing tackle; a move that could have a significant economic impact on anglers and the recreational fishing industry. Senator Lincoln's bill addresses a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and four other organizations asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the manufacture and trade of lead in ammunition and fishing tackle under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA). The petitioners cite the impact on waterbirds as the main prompt for the requested ban. On August 27, the EPA denied the petition as it relates to ammunition because it is exempted from EPA regulation under TSCA, but maintained the petition as it relates to fishing tackle. The bill, S.3850, will amend TSCA, applying the same exemption to fishing tackle.


"If the petition is accepted as presented, all lead in all fishing tackle would be banned, which would substantially increase the cost of recreational fishing and negatively impact angler participation across the country," said American Sportfishing Association (ASA) Vice President Gordon Robertson. "The resultant decrease in fishing tackle purchases will diminish the dollars for fisheries conservation through fishing license sales and the federal manufacturers' excise tax on fishing tackle, the two most important sources for fisheries conservation in the United States."

The reasons to support this legislation are:

  • The data does not support a federal ban on lead sinkers used for fishing. In general, bird populations, including loons and other waterfowl species, are subject to many more substantial threats such as habitat loss through shoreline development. Any lead restrictions on fishing tackle need to be based on sound science that supports the appropriate action for a particular water body or species.
  • A federal ban of the use of lead in fishing tackle will have a significant negative impact on recreational anglers and fisheries resources, but a negligible impact on waterfowl populations.
  • Depending on the alternative metal and current prevailing raw material costs, non-lead fishing tackle products can cost from ten to twenty 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 significant and costly changes from both the industry and anglers.
  • America's 60 million anglers generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation's economy, creating employment for over one million people.

A less restrictive ban was proposed in 1992, which the EPA later abandoned after finding that lead had no significant impact on waterbird populations; that the economic impact would be significant; and that the proposed rule was socially unacceptable. "This issue continues to be resurrected, but the facts do not change," noted Robertson. "Senator Lincoln's legislation will help to ensure that future regulations on fishing tackle are established in response to scientific data instead of unjustified petitions."

"A federal ban is not only unwarranted, but it also oversteps EPA's jurisdiction," continued Robertson. "Any impact of lead on waterbird populations is a localized issue which, when scientifically documented and determined to be a population threat, should be addressed by state fish and wildlife agencies through local fishing regulations."


"We are proud of the over 43,000 anglers that voiced their concerns on this issue in messages sent to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. We encourage all anglers to contact their Senators and urge them to support and co-sponsor Senator Lincoln's bill." Robertson concluded, "The sportfishing industry applauds Senator Lincoln for addressing an issue that urgently needed a dose of common sense. She is a sportswoman who understands the practical side of this issue and the sportfishing community commends her for protecting one of our nation's greatest pastimes from unwarranted regulation."

The sportfishing community can send letters requesting their Senators' support of S.3850 through www.keepamericafishing.org. The URL to copy and paste into your internet browser is //www.capwiz.com/keepamericafishing/issues/alert/?alertid=17980506.

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