The anti-fishing loon-atics have had their way in New Hampshire, as the state’s House of Representatives passed a bill to outlaw the use of lead jigheads and sinkers of 1 ounce or less. The bill previously passed without opposition in the Senate and now awaits the governor’s signature to be made law.
The bill’s intended purpose is to protect loons from dying of lead poisoning by ingesting the jigs and sinkers. But a law wasn’t needed for that. It rarely occurs anyway.
“There is no substantial evidence to suggest that lead fishing tackle has detrimental impacts on loon, or other migratory waterfowl populations,” the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation said in a letter opposing the bill. “In fact, studies by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service have found loon populations are either stable or increasing across the nation.”
What the bill will do, however, is discourage recreational fishing in New Hampshire, especially by those from out-of-state. Resident anglers will mostly continue to use lead jigs and sinkers, since no punitive measures are attached to the new law.
But out-of-state anglers won’t want the potential hassle and so will go elsewhere to fish. That means their money will go with them.
That translates into fewer tourist dollars to benefit the state’s economy and less revenue for management of the state’s fish and wildlife resources, since fishing license fees are a primary source of revenue.
Additionally, over time, the measure is likely to depress the number of resident anglers as well. That will mean less funding not only from loss of licenses but from the federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program. State apportionments from the latter are tied to license sales; the more who fish the waters of a state, the more money that state gets.
Whether money comes from license sales or WSFR, it benefits fish and wildlife in general as it is used to restore and enhance habitat. In other words, when anglers buy licenses and spend money on their sport, they actually benefit loons, not harm them.
Congratulations New Hampshire loon-atics for your stupidity and short-sightedness.