Northern California Assemblyman questions fishing gear designation

SACRAMENTO — A state legislator from Plumas Lake, California penned a letter to the deputy director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) on Feb. 1 to challenge the state agency’s designation of the fishing weights and gear as a priority product for review as part of the agency’s 2015 work plan.

Assembly member James Gallagher (R-Plumas Lake) stated he and his fellow signatories were concerned about fishing weights and gears being targeted for review without a “lack of concrete evidence.”

“The rationale for putting fishing weights and gear in a product category does not seem compelling,” Gallagher wrote to DTSC Deputy Director Meredith Williams earlier this month. “There have not been any reports of increased lead exposure amongst sports fishers and the work plan presents evidence that is either mere conjecture or speculation. We are concerned about the lack of concrete evidence backing [the department’s] decision and the adverse economic effects incurred on consumers and the sport fishing industry if DTSC decides to regulate or ban these products.”

Williams previously told FishRap the published Draft Priority Product Work Plan was a starting point to determine if any regulation is necessary. Whether any policies or regulations result from the plan remains to be seen.

Gallagher’s two-page letter, which was co-signed by 23 State Senators and Assembly members, could accordingly be seen as a preemptive strike. The Assembly member added any ban on fishing weights and gears, if formalized, would adversely affect recreational angling. He cited a Department of Fish and Wildlife statistic crediting the fishing industry contributing more than $4.9 million annually in economic activity.

“A ban would threaten local tourism and the billions of dollars of economic activity fishing provides,” Gallagher stated. “Aside from the dearth of scientific evidence to support including fishing tackles and weights as a priority product for potential regulation, the cost to Californians who enjoy fishing and our outdoors would be too onerous.

“The numbers of recreational anglers are already declining,” Gallagher continued in his letter. “The cost of … [state-issued fishing] licenses increase every year and imposing regulations that would raise the cost of sport fishing even more would make fishing cost prohibitive for many outdoorspeople.”

The Plumas Lake representative added lead alternatives are becoming more prevalent and any regulation fishing weights and gear would not have any meaningful impact on the environment.

“Regulating this small product segment seems superficial with respect to the impact of other consumer products,” Gallagher said. “There is also a risk that manufacturer of fishing gear would exit the California market altogether if they must develop two different production and distribution systems.

DTSC released its Safer Consumer Products Final Priority Product Work Plan on April 15, 2015, outlining the department’s priority products and chemicals of concern. Fishing and angling equipment were included on the work plan’s list. Also on the list were building and household products, cleaning products, clothing, office furniture, office machinery, and personal care and hygiene products. 

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