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Entries in lead (21)


Congress Stops Lead Ban Attempts for 2015

Congress stood solidly on the side of anglers and hunters late last year, as it specified in an appropriations bill that unwarranted regulation of fishing tackle and ammunition with lead components via the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) would be banned during the 2015 fiscal year.

“We applaud Congressional leadership for protecting the nation’s 60 million anglers from unjustified restrictions on fishing equipment that anglers have safely used for decades,” said Mike Nussman, president of the American Sportfishing Association.

Section 425 of the $1.1 trillion bill states, “None of the funds made available by this or any other act may be used to regulate the lead content of ammunition, ammunition components, or fishing tackle . . .”

But the fix is only temporary. Should Congress pass the Sportsmen’s Package Bill in 2015, which was derailed by last year’s Senate, the protection could become permanent.

During the past few years, environmental and other groups persistently have lobbied the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban use of lead by anglers, hunters, and shooters.

“On multiple occasions, the Environmental Protection Agency has been petitioned by anti-fishing organizations to federally ban fishing tackle containing lead based on its impact on wildlife, a position that is not based on sound science,” Nussman added.


Senate Tries Again to Enact Sportsman's Act

Legislation beneficial to anglers has been introduced in Congress by a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators

"The number one issue for sportsmen and women across the country is access. This widely supported, bipartisan bill will open more areas to hunting and fishing and grow America's thriving outdoor recreation economy,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.

"The bipartisan Sportsman's Act is not only an access bill, but also a way to promote economic growth in our country. Sportsmen and women across the country spend billions of dollars each year on outdoor activities,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.  

"This commonsense, bipartisan legislation supports conservation efforts while also improving access to recreational hunting and fishing on federal lands."

The Sportman’s Act of 2015 includes 14 provisions, several similar to those within the  Sportsmen's Act of 2014 from the 113th Congress. Importantly, the bill makes the existing exemption from EPA regulation for lead shot permanent, and adds lead tackle to the exempted products, leaving regulatory authority to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state fish and wildlife agencies.

Also, the bill requires federal land managers to consider how management plans affect opportunities to engage in hunting, fishing and recreational shooting; enables states to allocate a greater proportion of federal funding to create and maintain shooting ranges on federal and non-federal lands; and directs 1.5 percent of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to enhancing public recreational access for hunting, angling, and recreational shooting, otherwise known as Making Public Lands Public (MPLP).

“This bipartisan package contains many important provisions that are largely non-controversial and that will advance fisheries conservation and recreational fishing access for the benefit of the nation’s 60 million anglers,” said American Sportfishing President and CEO Mike Nussman. “Recreational fishing supports 828,000 jobs and contributes $115 billion to the economy annually. This monumental legislative package will greatly enhance recreational fishing’s social, economic and conservation benefits to the nation.”

Previous versions of the Sportsmen’s Act failed to pass the U.S. Senate in 2012 and 2014, primarily due to partisan disputes unrelated to the merits of the bill. With strong commitments from leadership on both sides of the aisle, ASA expressed optimism about the bill being enacted in the 114th Congress.

“Our community remains dedicated to the passage of the Sportsmen’s Act, and we are hopeful that the third time will be the charm,” said Nussman. “We want to give special thanks to Senators Murkowski and Heinrich and their staffs for swift bipartisan progress, and we look forward to working with them and the other original co-sponsors as this legislation goes through the committee process and ultimately to the floor of the U.S. Senate.”

Nussman added, “We believe the Sportsmen’s Act could be greatly strengthened by the addition of the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act. This bipartisan bill has strong support from the sportfishing community and it would bring tremendous value to the overall package by adding a much needed fisheries habitat component. ASA will actively support inclusion of this measure into the package during the coming legislative process.”

More information on Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, as well as an action alert to contact Senators in support of the bill, can be found at Keep America Fishing


With Closure of Smelter, Future for Lead Fishing Tackle Uncertain

Late last year, the last primary lead smelter in this country closed, forced out of business by oppressive regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Owned by the Doe Run Company, it had operated in Herculaneum, Mo., since 1892.

In a nutshell, what that means is lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle no longer can be entirely manufactured domestically from raw ore to finished products. That’s because the ore will be shipped to other countries for smelting. As a consequence, prices likely will be higher for many of these items.

That will be the case, that is, unless another company decides to open a new smelter that can meet the more stringent air quality standards imposed by the EPA.

“Whatever the EPA’s motivation when creating the new lead air quality standard, increasingly restrictive regulation of lead is likely to affect the production and cost of traditional ammunition,” said AmmoLand in explaining the consequences.

Cost of sinkers, jig heads, and other lead fishing tackle also will go up if companies must buy lead bullion from foreign smelters. Some companies, including TTI Blakemore Fishing Group, won’t be impacted--- yet.

Since most Road Runners are tied in Haiti, Dominican Republic, and the Philippines, our lead is foreign sourced. We are okay, for now,” said T.J. Stallings, director of marketing for the company.”

“ As more states decide what’s best for the environment based on lies, we may have to offer a lead-free alternative, at nearly double the cost,” he added.

That’s because the regulations that forced Doe Run to close its smelter are  part of an ongoing and coordinated campaign to demonize and ban lead fishing tackle. Never mind that no evidence exists that sinkers, jig heads, and other items pose a significant threat to fish and wildlife.

Lead is a natural substance. It is inert,” Stallings added.

“I’ve poured and tied thousands of jigs. I’ve crimped split shot with my teeth since I was eight. I’m still here.

“Meanwhile the environmentalists are screaming that we are killing birds with our lead fishing tackle. I guess that is the difference between environmentalists and conservationists.

“You only need to do a little fact checking to see what the conservationists at Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation have done the last 40 years. The results of their work are astounding.”

By contrast, just one “green energy” wind turbine kills more birds annually than lead tackle ever has, he added.

Meanwhile, here’s the Second Amendment angle to the closure of the Doe Run Smelter:

Without ammunition, a gun is just a club,” said New American.

“The government knows this, and in light of the ongoing project of arming federal agencies to the teeth with millions of rounds of ammunition and military-grade weapons and vehicles, the EPA’s closing of the Doe Run plant, although not a direct assault on the right to keep and bear arms, can be seen as another step toward civilian disarmament. 

“While a few other media outlets have reported on the closure, none has connected this dot to a couple of others in the overall plan to leave Americans without weapons and ammunition.”

Go here to read more.

And here’s a more in-depth look at the lead issue from Activist Angler.


Anglers Win Access Battle in Australia

Good news for anglers everywhere: Our brothers and sisters in Australia won a huge victory for public access.

And there’s an important message here for U.S. fishermen: Get involved in the political process. Aussie anglers wouldn’t have won if they had just gone fishing instead of fighting back.

Here’s an excerpt from the report in Fishing World, and please note the mention of Pew:

“We are pleased the Coalition Government has listened to Australia’s recreational fishers and are conducting a scientific review of the proposal, which will give a sensible balance for Australia’s unique marine environment,” said Allan Hansard of the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation.

“It was clear that the decisions to ‘lock’ recreational fishers out of vast areas of our seas by the previous government was not scientifically based and was done to meet a political agenda.”

The Government’s marine parks announcement marks an historic win by the recreational fishing sector against powerful international environment groups, including the US-based Pew organisation which spent millions of dollars in its failed attempt to ban fishing across huge swathes of Australian territorial waters.

Meanwhile, here’s things are not going so well in the United States. President Obama’s National Ocean Council is moving ahead with plants to “zone” uses of our oceans, telling us where we can and cannot fish. And in Maine, officials are considering a proposal by anti-fishing advocates who want to ban plastic baits.

Down in Georgia, a fishing editor said this:

Fishing is a way of life for millions of Americans. It’s a pastime all can enjoy, as well as a multi-billion-dollar industry through the sale of boats and motors, fishing tackle and even live bait.

The state of Maine, though, seems hell-bent on becoming the nation’s first anti-fishing state, according to a news release from Keep America Fishing.

Not long ago, the state legislature voted to impose restrictions and downright bans on the use of lead-headed jigs and lead sinkers, claiming the loon population was being adversely affected by ingesting that tackle while diving for bait fish.

Earlier this year, Maine’s Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife called for a study to determine the effects of soft plastic lures on fish. Maine’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department is using online research, ice angling reports and litter assessments to determine if there are adverse effects on fish . . . 

Legislation introduced during early 2013 legislative sessions called for the outright ban of soft plastic lures.

The state study also includes the impact of hooks! What a waste of time! If soft baits are banned, what’s next?

I’m glad I live where I live!


A Look at Lead: Miracle Metal or Environmental Evil?

Is lead a miracle metal or an environmental evil?

It is neither. It is a naturally occurring element that anglers have used to make sinkers for thousands of years.

Today, it’s also the preferred material for jigheads and as ballast in hard lures and spinnerbaits. The sinker business alone is worth $100 million annually and jigheads $75 million, according to the American Sportfishing Institute.

But because of its toxic nature in some applications, such as paint and plumbing, lead also is a material demonized with hyperbole and distortion of facts by some environmentalists who want to ban its use by fishermen.

Ground zero for this assault is New England, where defenders of the loon claim that lead weights threaten survival of the iconic bird. Loons, they assert, ingest sinkers and then die of lead poisoning.

This does happen to a few birds annually. But studies and statistics don’t support their argument that populations are in any way threatened. Degradation of shoreline habitat for these reclusive birds poses a far greater danger.

Additionally, loons are ingesting tiny pieces of lead, not bullet weights or jigheads, which also are targeted in this emotion-driven propaganda effort in which misinformation is rampant.

Photo by Woody Hagge at

“The public hears about this anti-lead campaign and you’d be amazed at the phone calls I get,” said Gordon Robertson, ASA vice president.

“I get college students who think lead is like an aspirin. You drop it in the water, it dissolves, and the water becomes toxic.”

“We came by lead honestly,” he continued. “It’s cheap, easy to work with, and ubiquitous. And we don’t make lead, we move it around. But mistaken ideas like that make discussion difficult.”

In fact, lead does not dissolve in water. Yes, visualizing the accumulation of weights at the bottom of a lake or river is not aesthetically appealing, but that’s not the same as posing an environmental hazard. The soft, heavy metal is harmful only when ingested or inhaled (as dust from lead-based paint, for example).

“Lead is not a population problem for loons or any other bird,” Robertson said. “Yes, it kills a few individuals, but we manage for populations. Legislators don’t understand the management process. They don’t understand the realities.

“That’s why regulations about lead should come from fish and wildlife agencies, not legislatures. And bans should occur only where there are documented problems. Legislatures are much more likely to go for statewide bans.”

And while lead is not the environmental evil that its detractors claim it to be, it is more than a preferred material for sinkers and other fishing tackle; it is essential. Yes, some alternatives --- tungsten, steel, brass, tin, bismuth --- exist. But as with green energy options, much research will be necessary before they are commercially viable on a large scale.

“I like tungsten weights,” said Stephen Headrick, who makes Punisher jigs. “But I tried to go with tungsten (for jigheads) and it was too expensive. Also, most anything to do with tungsten is made in China. You buy tungsten and you are sending American jobs overseas.

“My jigheads are made in the U.S.”

T.J. Stallings of TTI-Blakemore echoed Headrick’s appraisal. “We looked at tungsten, but it’s cost prohibitive,” he said, adding that the higher melting points of tungsten, steel, and glass can destroy the temper of a hook.

“We’re working on a non-lead option so we will stop losing business in New England,” he added. “But fishermen are conservationists by default. The problem with lead is that we’re living in the age of misinformation and liars. That’s why we have this fear of lead.”

Alternatives for weights, meanwhile, are more practical than they are for jigheads, and that’s why Bullet Weights and other companies offer them. Still, tungsten, brass, steel, and tin make up only a fraction of the market.

“With tungsten, you are paying a higher price for performance, and it’s still only a small portion of our business,” said Joe Crumrine, president of the company. “Our Ultra Steel continues to grow in popularity, but we still sell more lead than anything.”

That includes split shot, the largest segment of the sinker market, but tin is making inroads, Crumrine said.

“No other material is soft enough,” he explained. “It costs twice as much as lead, but we sell a lot of it, even in areas where there are no lead bans.”

What’s most important, Robertson said, is that anglers themselves are able to choose whether they want to use lead or tin or tungsten. Among fishing advocates, the greatest fear is that lead bans will discourage participation, and that will mean the loss of critical revenue for state fish and wildlife agencies. That’s because they are funded primarily by anglers through license fees and excise taxes on fishing tackle, including lead sinkers.

“The more barriers that are put up, the more it hurts the industry and the resource,” he said. “And we’re not making lead. We’re simply using what exists.”


What’s the Alternative?

 As someone not afraid to call himself an environmental steward as well as an angler, Teeg Stouffer understands the practicality of lead use in the fishing industry.

“I don’t think that lead is the worst thing facing our waters and I don’t think we should ban it,” said the executive director of Recycled Fish, a conservation organization.

But he would like to see the industry move more aggressively toward development of  practical alternatives.

“We know that lead is a toxic substance, and nobody goes fishing with the intention to spread a toxic substance,” he said.

“If we have non-toxic alternatives available, why not use them? We don’t advocate for bans, but we do advocate for angler education. We believe that people want to do the right thing when they know what the right thing is, and most people don’t have information about alternatives. We want to help provide that information.”

Stouffer added that he’s caught hundreds of fish on lead-free jigheads, most of them made of tin-bismuth. He also owns some made of tungsten, which he admits are costly, and even some glass ones. “They’re really cool, but not super practical,” he said.

With the lead-free jigheads, he explained, “I have not experienced any issues with longevity or fishability, nor have I heard those objections from anyone else who is using lead-free products.”

What Stouffer wants to see is a consumer-driven switch from lead to alternatives.

“Would fishing tackle manufacturers be willing to spool up production to make a non-toxic  product to satisfy this market?” he asked. “Many manufacturers, both small and large, already are.”

(A variation of this article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)