Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lead fishing tackle ban nixed by federal government

Lake Erie yellow perch anglers won't have to sneak attaching an half-ounce lead bell sinker to their fishing rig.

For that matter, neither will walleye anglers have to give up their lead-head jigs or bass anglers be forced to switch to lead alternatives for their drop-shot rigs.

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rejected a petition that called for the agency to do just that. This effort is being spearheaded by a group largely consisting of environmental organizations who believe that lead-based fishing weights, lures and other tackle are killing wildlife, mostly birds, that accidentally ingest the metal.

Earlier this year the U.S. EPA also rejected the same environmentalists' claims regarding hunters' use of lead-based ammunition.

In rendering its decision, the U.S. EPA noted that the ".. petitioners have not demonstrated that the requested rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment..."

America's sport fishing industry is praising the government's rationale.

"It represents a solid review of the biological facts, as well as the economic and social impacts that would have resulted from such a sweeping federal action. It is a common sense decision," said Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association.

Quick to respond, the environmental petitioners say that the U.S. EPA's decision is wrong in every way. It is these group's contention that upwards of 20 million animals - chiefly birds - die annually from lead poisoning.

“The EPA’s failure to act is inexcusable, given what we know about how toxic lead is to wildlife and the extensive science linking lead poisoning in wildlife to ammunition and fishing weights,” said Jeff Miller, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity.

“There are plenty of safe and available alternatives to lead products for these outdoor sports, so there’s no good reason for this poisoning to continue.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischkorn@News-Herald.com

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