Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will not recommend that use of soft plastic baits be banned in the state’s waters. That doesn't mean the legislature can't ignore the agency and go ahead with the ban, but the agency's stance is encouraging.
In a report presented yesterday to the state’s legislators, the agency said the following:
“Requiring the sale and use of only biodegradable SPLs (soft plastic baits) is currently not a solution. There is currently no standard national or international definition for what constitutes ‘biodegradable plastic” and SPLs specifically. Based on the information presented in this report, the Department does not recommend any legislation at this time.”
Instead, it appears that emphasis will be on education, encouraging anglers to properly dispose of used baits to minimize impacts to fish and fisheries.
That’s the right course of action, and I applaud Inland Fisheries for its efforts on this issue. (The entire report eventually will be posted on its website.)
No question that anglers should do a better job of cleaning up after themselves, but a ban of plastic baits, as proposed last year in the Maine legislature, was not the proper response. It would have been impossible to enforce and likely would have hurt the state’s economy because of reduced tourism. Additionally, while some individual fish do eat discarded baits, no evidence exists that populations are being harmed as a consequence.
A particularly interesting finding by the agency was that baits advertised as 100 percent biodegradable show no signs of degradation after one week, one month, or even eight months. “The SPL retained the same observable physical characteristics and elasticity of a new, identical SPL,” the report said.
Learn more here.
Here is the originally proposed bill.
And here is an earlier post at Activist Angler.