State looking into banning lead-based fishing weights

By: Parimal M. Rohit

Recreational anglers could soon be on the hook for possessing what might become defined as chemically hazardous fishing equipment, as state officials are looking into regulating or banning the use of lead products in the state’s waterways.

Any possible regulation of lead products found in fishing weights and gear would be based on a report published as part of the Safer Consumer Products Program. Specifically, the program’s Draft Priority Product Work Plan aims to incorporate certain regulations “designed to encourage market shifts toward a green economy.”

According to Meredith Williams of the Department of Toxic Control Substances, the published Draft Priority Product Work Plan is a starting point and whether any policies or regulations result from it remains to be seen.

Still, the draft work plan claims some fishing and angling equipment contains environmentally harmful chemicals that could potentially harm birds and other wildlife.

“Of particular concern are products such as fishing weights and sinkers made from lead that are used to add weight to a fishing line, lure or hook,” the draft work plan stated. “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.”

The draft work plan claims anglers potentially lose “hundreds of tons of fishing and angling equipment into the environment” that contain hazardous chemicals such as lead, zinc and copper and threaten wildlife.

Opposing any bans or restrictive policies on fishing equipment is the California Sportsfishing League.

The Priority Product Work Plan is part of the state’s Green Chemistry Initiative, which launched in 2007 and, according to the draft work plan, aims “to reduce public and environmental exposure to toxic chemicals” and, through the Safer Consumer Products program, make policy recommendations to “accelerate the quest for safer products.”

Public workshops on the Priority Product Work Plan were held in Sacramento and Cypress in September.

The public comment period for the Priority Product Work Plan is open through Oct. 13.

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