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COVID-19 delays lead ban plans in top US fishing state

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Plans to introduce a ban on lead in fishing tackle in one of North America’s top angling states have been put on hold following the COVID-19 pandemic.

A plan to rid tackle boxes of lead in one of America’s most popular fishing states has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $1.2m funded campaign was instigated because of the deaths of some loons and swans being attributed to poisoning from lead sinkers.

The plan was devised by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) after the state was awarded the money following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill, reports the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.

The funding, part of a multi-billion dollar legal settlement with British Petroleum, was granted after the DNR argued that loons that nest in Minnesota in the summer but winter in the Gulf of Mexico were harmed by the oil spill.

The plan included the hiring of staff to run the programme, but on the eve of the May 9 season opening, the MPCA has said the plan will be shelved until further notice because of the pandemic.

“The money is just sitting there,” said DNR Nongame-Wildlife Programme Supervisor, Carrol Henderson, who has since retired. “We won’t lose it. But for now, the campaign is likely to be delayed at least until the Fall or perhaps until next Spring.”

The money is intended to finance the three-year education campaign to persuade the state’s one million anglers to stop using lead. And if it can demonstrate it has been used effectively, it could stand to receive more funding for a further three years.

The move is certain to meet resistance from the tackle industry. Lead alternatives, such as tungsten, steel and tin, are available, but are more expensive and less dense, meaning larger sized sinkers. Lead is also used in other tackle.

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