California moving towards ban on lead in fishing tackle
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One of North America’s biggest states could be hit by a lead ban in fishing tackle.
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has announced that fishing tackle will remain on a list of consumer products that are earmarked to undergo a regulatory process that could lead to a ban of items containing lead.
This is despite the DTSC admitting in public hearings that it has no scientific studies demonstrating that lead poses an environmental problem in California. Yet it has still declared fishing gear to be one of the top seven most significant threats to health faced by Californians and its environment.
“State regulators failed to comply with state laws that requires them to conduct an independent analysis before including any product in this regulatory process. The inclusion of fishing tackle will harm recreational fishing and the jobs that depend on it,” said David Dickerson, President of the California Sportfishing League (CSL). “It appears that politics, rather than science, was the basis for the DTSC’s decision.
“While there are many sources of pollution that pose a serious threat to California’s ocean and streams, anglers are not among them.”
In 2010, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled that lead weights do not pose an unreasonable risk to wildlife and in December last year, President Barack Obama signed a budget bill that prohibits the use of federal dollars to ban lead fishing weights.
As revealed in a study released by the CSL, high costs and unwarranted limitations on fishing have contributed to a major decline in California’s fishing participation rate. While the state has one of North America’s longest coastlines and over 4,000 lakes and reservoirs, 20,000 registered ponds and thousands of miles of streams, the State ranks last in the US for fishing participation.
Since 1980 sales of fishing licences have declined by more than a half, while California’s population has risen by nearly 60% to over 37 million people.
“The high cost of fishing licences and unwarranted limits on fishing have contributed to a significant decline in participation,” added Dickerson. “Increasing the cost of gear and potential bans will only accelerate that decline and threaten jobs.”
Experts believe regulations that could follow the DTSC’s assessment will be extremely costly and may encourage manufacturers to flee the Californian market.
“The bottom line is that the cost of manufacturing fishing gear will increase significantly and these costs will be passed onto anglers,” said Maureen Gorsen, an environmental attorney.