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Entries in lead ban (21)


New Hampshire Defies Common Sense and Science in Banning Lead Tackle

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. 


Maine Loon-atics Join New Hampshire in Attempt to Ban Lead Fishing Tackle

Maine legislators seem to have postponed their attempt to ban plastic baits until next year. But some have decided to join their “loon-atic” friends in New Hampshire in an attempt to ban lead weights and jigs of one ounce or less.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) reports that SB 268 was heard today in the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries.

Introduced by Senator Anne Haskell, SB 268 would make it illegal to sell or use lead sinkers and jigs weighing one ounce or less, and measuring 2.5 inches or less in length.

“The primary concern surrounding the use of lead sinkers and jigs is the potential effects on waterfowl, like the loon, that ingest whole pebbles to aid in the digestion of their food,” CSF says.

“Although there have been documented individual loon deaths linked directly to lead fishing sinkers, there has been no documented evidence that lead fishing sinkers, of any size, have a detrimental impact on local or regional loon populations. In fact, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, loon populations are either stable or are increasing across the nation.

“Imposing additional restrictions on the use of lead sinkers in Maine is not biologically justified, would place an undue economic burden on the anglers who fish Maine's waters, and would supersede the long-standing authority of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife - the recognized fish and wildlife experts for the state of Maine - to manage the state's fish and wildlife resources.” 


New Hampshire Latest Front for Loon-atic Assault on Fishing

In case you missed it, preservationists and their political allies in New Hampshire are pushing for a broader lead ban as part of an ongoing campaign to restrict recreational fishing. They profess that their objective is to protect loons. It is not, as no evidence indicates that loon populations are at risk because the birds ingest lead fishing tackle.

This is part of the same offensive that includes an attempt to ban the use of plastic baits in Maine, as well as implement “marine protected areas” in the nation’s coastal waters, where fishing would not be allowed. Some also are using concerns about the spread of invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels --- real threats--- as means to force restrictions on access to inland waters. 

Recreational fishing is under assault, no doubt about it. And you can either help defend it or stick your head in the sand until it’s too late.

New Hampshire Senate Bill 89 would ban the use of any lead sinker or jig weighing 1 ounce or less. That would make use of just about any small fishing lure illegal in state waters.

Keep America Fishing makes these points:

  • This bill would expand an already restrictive policy on the use of lead jigs with no scientific data to back up such a ban.
  • The ban would have a significant negative impact on the state’s economy and fisheries conservation, but a negligible impact on the waterfowl populations it seeks to protect. In fact, New Hampshire’s loon population is increasing.
  • This ban is more restrictive than the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s levels for lead in paint, children’s toys, plumbing fixtures and non-toxic shot for waterfowl hunting.
  • Technology does not permit manufacturers to supply alternative metals 100 percent free of lead so the practical impact of the legislation is to ban all sinkers and jigs less one ounce or less.
  • This size range represents the most commonly used sinkers.

And it adds, “By banning lead completely the state is effectively banning fishing!

“Join us by signing the petition and protect recreational fishing by stopping this overly restrictive and unrealistic ban on fishing tackle!”

 Go here to voice your opposition.


'Loon'-atic Fringe Pushes for Ban on Lead Jigs in New Hampshire

As environmentalist extremists and their political allies attempt to ban the use of soft plastic baits in Maine, their counterparts in New Hampshire want to ban lead jigs.

They claim that doing so will protect loons from ingesting them and dying of lead poisoning. But no evidence exists that the birds swallow jigs.

“The ban proposed by SB 89 is unjustified,” says Keep America Fishing.

“The impact on loons and other waterfowl is the most often cited reason for bans on lead fishing tackle, yet New Hampshire loon populations are currently increasing throughout the state.

“Waterfowl populations in New Hampshire are subject to more substantial threats such as habitat loss, water acidification and domestic and wild predators. Any lead restrictions need to be based on scientific data that supports the appropriate action for a particular water body or species.”

And Dick Smith, conservation director of the New Hampshire Bass Federation says this:

“In 2006 and then again in 2012 the loon people pushed for legislation to ban your bass fishing jigs. So far we have defeated their efforts, but now here they are back again this year with a very similar legislative bill in SB 89.

“We have to continue to fight for our freedom or risk losing it.

“The New Hampshire Lakes Association, the Audubon Society, and the Loon Preservation Committee all have lobbyists who have been working very hard for many months to try to get state senators to co-sponsor their bill to ban our traditional jigs, which would wipe out our tube lures as well since they have a leadhead jig inside.

“These lobbyists persuaded eight senators to sign on to the bill. That is 33 percent of the entire Senate. So the deck is stacked against us in the Senate. As was the case last year, our best shot to defeat this bill is in the House of Representatives.

“While we do not have lobbyists working for us and we are outnumbered by lakes people, we have the facts and rightness on our side. And we each have a VOICE that we ALL need to make sure our legislators hear. We have to make the effort.”

A public hearing on SB 89 is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the Legislative Office Building, Room101, in Concord, N.H.

To learn more go here.


Anti-Fishing Agendas Revealed

(Author's note: An abbreviated version of this article appears in the September issue of B.A.S.S. Times. Here it will appear as two parts. Then I'll post my related opinion piece about anglers' rights being under assault.)

An anti-fishing message is immortalized at the new Miami Marlins baseball stadium.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) paid for a personalized paving stone in the East Plaza that reads as follows:

“Florida Is Still Hosting Incredible Night Games. Help Us Reach The Stars. Cheer Our Marlins!”

Unfortunately, in approving the inscription, Miami Marlin officials failed to notice that the first letter of each word spells out “,” a PETA website and an anti-fishing message.

Though the strategy for placing it might seem juvenile and the number of people that it affects minimal, the message typifies the relentless nature of PETA and other groups that want to end angling.

Over the years, they’ve also called for bans on recreational fishing in state parks and a Constitutional amendment protecting fish. While wearing a fish suit, a PETA member once picketed the Bassmaster Classic, earning points for bravery but not winning any supporters.

Likely their views never will reflect the majority opinion in this country, but as our society grows more urbanized, they will wield more influence, possibly even enough to shape public policy regarding management of fisheries.

With recreational angling under unprecedented assault today, that’s a dangerous proposition. But are the two enough to assume that a cohesive, conspiratorial anti-fishing movement exists?

No, they aren’t.

Still, Phil Morlock, Shimano’s Director of Environmental Affairs issues this warning:  

“Whether by design and intent or by other less nefarious means, I believe the very basis of science based fish and wildlife management, conservation and sustainable use is being threatened as never before.”

What, exactly, is the truth about those threats and how they relate to one another in the “big picture”? If we are to successfully protect recreational fishing for future generations, we must understand the opposition. B.A.S.S. Times asked fishing advocates and conservation leaders for their insights on the problem and how to deal with it.

As it turns out, the truth is more complicated than a coordinated anti-fishing movement, and, in some ways, even more sinister.

“Many of the most effective antis are never strident about it which is why they are such a threat,” Morlock said. “The agenda is to never appear to have an agenda.”

Chris Horton of the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation added, “Recreational anglers are faced with more challenges today than we were 20, 15, or even 10 years ago.”

Animal Rights

First, animal rights groups do pose a greater threat than many realize. Represented by organizations such as PETA and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, they oppose not only sport fishing, but use of animals in agriculture and medical research.

 “More organizations drift closer to that (agenda) every year,” said Gordon Robertson, Vice President of the American Sportfishing Association. “They follow the demographics, and just look at today’s society: It’s becoming more and more urbanized and detached from nature.”

A message like “save the whales,” he added, resonates much more with a population “used to emergency messages” than does a plan for fisheries management.

Along with proclaiming their concern for whales, seals, and other sympathetic animals, however, these groups also assert that fish “are tortured just for ‘sport,” and they claim that “others (fish) are unintended victims who are maimed or killed simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The use of “victims” and “who” in referring to fish is no accident.

 The threat is heightened because many in the media tend to be sympathetic to these causes, Morlock said. Consequently, reporters often fail to interview credible scientists who can separate fact from fiction on issues such as whether fish feel pain when they are hooked.

“If fish did, they would be unable to eat many of the spiny/prickly creatures like crawfish and other fish (because of dorsal spines) that they survive on,” Morlock said. “That’s a rather obvious point to those of us who fish or who have a background in science. But for those who do not, the media does a poor job of filling in the rather glaring gaps in information deficiency often inherent in animal rights campaigns.”

Consequently, their arguments often are taken at face value when these groups insist not only that fish can feel pain, but that they can suffer from “fear and anticipation of physical pain.”

None of that is true, according to most credible scientists.

“When a fish is hooked by an angler, it typically responds with rapid swimming behavior that appears to be a flight response,” said Dr. James Rose, who has spent more than 30 years studying neurological responses  to pain in animals. “Human observers sometimes interpret this flight response to be a reaction to pain, as if the fish was capable of the same kind of pain experience as a human.”

But fish “don’t have the brain systems necessary to experience pain,” he said, adding that “flight responses of fish are a general reaction to many types of potentially threatening stimuli and can’t be taken to represent a response to pain.”

More Dangers

Other threats are less direct, but no less real, with recreational fishing at risk of being collateral damage. The persistent campaign by some environmental groups to ban lead fishing tackle is one of the most troubling, as is the growing movement by government, environmental groups, and lake associations to restrict public access.

With the former, the Center for Biological Diversity and others insist that lead fishing tackle must be banned to protect loons and other waterfowl. Even though no scientific research supports the notion that bird populations are being harmed by lead weights and other items, they continue to file lawsuits and push for bans at the state and federal levels, as well as try to sway public opinion.

“Getting the lead out seems a quick and easy fix, but the evidence is not there,” said Max Sandlin, who was a member of the CSF when he represented Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. “Anglers and hunters are good conservationists.

“Those who want to ban lead might be well intentioned, but their arguments are not well thought out. A debate needs to be based on sound science. We need to be vigilant about these kinds of issues because they can go to the very heart of fishing and hunting.”

Much the same could be said about attempts to limit public access to public waters: The evidence is not there to justify the action.

In pushing for locked gates at launch ramps, lake associations cite concerns about boaters introducing invasive species such a zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil.

“But in doing that, they’re creating a barrier between themselves and groups like B.A.S.S. that are working on solving the problem,” said Tom Sadler, Managing Director of The Middle River Group, LLC and former Conservation Director for the Izaak Walton League of America.

“In closing access, they hurt the community, and they hurt their neighbors. Anglers must be ready with persuasive facts.”

To be continued.