State agencies working toward total lead ban in California

By: Jim Matthews

After banning all lead-based ammunition for hunting, the state is moving forward to ban lead in fishing products.

It doesn’t matter there wasn’t the scientific data to justify the lead ammunition ban, and it doesn’t matter there is even less science to justify a ban on lead fishing tackle; the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has continued to move forward with its work plan that would examine seven categories of consumer products adversely impacting aquatic resource or harming children or workers.

Lead fishing products were included by the DTSC’s “Green Ribbon Science Panel” because of a concern about “products such as fishing weights and sinkers made from lead that are used to add weight to a fishing line, lure, or hook.”

The April report said, “Lead poisoning associated with the ingestion of lead fishing weights has been well documented in a variety of bird and animal species around the world.”

Well, yes, that’s true. But with the exception of California condors where lead ammunition might have been having a detrimental impact on a population level (and maybe not), there is not a single study or report saying lead ammunition or fishing tackle is negatively impacting the population size of any species. Individual birds may die occasionally from lead poisoning because of ingesting a lead sinker (loons in particular), but the deaths are not significant to the loon population. In every case, there is more loss to other man-made causes than to lead poisoning caused by fishing tackle (or lead ammunition for that matter).

This is an agenda, not a science-driven effort. Knowing that, you have to ask what is going on here.

When groups like the Humane Society and Center for Biological Diversity, radical anti-use groups masquerading as animal welfare and environmental organizations, had their petitions to ban lead ammunition and fishing tackle rejected by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (which still tries to make most of its decisions on at least thin science), they moved to the state level. Here in California, those two groups are in bed with the Governor’s office and state legislature. (You know an HSUS big wig used to walk the Governor’s dog daily, right?) HSUS is a group that has vowed it will end hunting and fishing in this country is now involved internally with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and Fish and Game Commission, the two state agencies that set hunting and fishing seasons.

That would be like putting a Klu Klux Klan leader on a Civil Rights Commission to add balance.

But that is what we have done in California with hunting and fishing agencies and commissions. The anti-groups have teamed up and even convinced the more mainstream environmental groups lead is a bad in any and all circumstances — never mind science — and it has no place in the Golden State. Or does everyone just think fishing and hunting are bad today?

I’m beginning to have the same feeling about the lead fishing tackle ban I had about the legislation banning lead hunting ammunition: If the anti-lead crowd can’t get their way administratively through the DTSC, there will just be another bill coming out of our left-wing legislature and then signed by the Brown Stain (my affectionate name for the Governor).

While there is no “condor” in the lead fishing tackle debate, the final legislation that banned lead ammunition for hunting was passed even after it was becoming painfully clear that lead ammunition was NOT the source of most lead in condors. There was still a lot of talk about lead and condors, but everyone who voted for and signed that bill knew the facts. They didn’t care. Any time they could get at guns and gun owners, Sacramento was on board — especially when they could hide behind the condor half-truths and outright lies.

But with lead fishing tackle, it shouldn’t be so easy. Wrong? The anti-fishing folks will find a few liberal, quasi-environmental fishermen who will talk about the horrible problems caused by lead fishing sinkers, lead jig heads, lead spoons and flies weighted with lead. If the fishing community wins within the DTSC, the anti-fishing groups will simply go to the legislature and say we need to ban lead fishing tackle and introduce a bill. They will lie about fishing groups being supportive. They will lie (like they did with non-lead ammunition) and say the cost difference is insignificant. They will lie and say alternatives are just as good. And the bill will pass.

By the way, just so you don’t think this is only about a handful of California residents, the mere million or so people who still fish in this state you don’t care about; you should know the other “consumer products” on the DTSC’s list to examine were personal care and hygiene products, building and household products, office furniture, cleaning products, clothing and office machinery.

If the DTSC is approaching these other categories in the same way as fishing tackle products, be assured that two things will happen: Costs of these products will go up (resulting in more taxes), and your safety won’t be improved.

[Anglers who would like to get involved in fighting the ban on lead fishing products should contact the California Sportfishing League at 916-936-1777 or via their website at]

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