Federal order would ultimately require full use of nontoxic gear by 2022.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Traditional fishing tackle will no longer be allowed on federally managed lands within the next 5 years, according to a director’s order issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service one day before Pres. Barack Obama’s last day in office.
Lead fishing tackle will be phased out of public lands managed by the U.S. government by January 2022. The federal order met with immediate opposition by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).
The federal action could be mimicked here in California, as state regulators spent the past few years contemplating a ban on lead fishing tackle in local waters.
Federal land managers will now be required to only allow “use of nontoxic ammunition and fishing tackle to the fullest extent practicable.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service order stated lead fishing tackle are proven to be harmful to fish.
“Exposure to lead ammunition and fishing tackle has resulted in harmful effects to fish and wildlife species. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, lead poisoning is a toxicosis caused by the absorption of hazardous levels of lead in body tissues,” the federal order stated. “Ingestion of lead fishing sinkers and other fishing tackle have been documented in waterbirds. Six states currently restrict the use of lead fishing tackle under certain circumstances to protect wildlife health.”
Federal officials added the Fish and Wildlife Service would “support targeted research to understand the human, fish, and wildlife health benefits of using nontoxic ammunition and fishing tackle.”
“When available information indicates negative impacts of lead ammunition or fish tackle on sensitive [or] vulnerable [species], the [Fish and Wildlife Service] … will take steps to expeditiously require the use of nontoxic ammunition or fishing tackle to the fullest extent practical,” the federal order continued.
Scott Gudes, ASA’s vice president of government affairs, said the sportfishing industry hopes Pres. Donald J. Trump would repeal the federal order.
“The sportfishing industry views this unilateral policy to ban lead fishing tackle, which was developed without any input from the industry, other angling organizations and state fish and wildlife agencies, as a complete disregard for the economic and social impact it will have on anglers and the recreational fishing industry,” Gudes said in a released statement.
“A sound, science-driven and durable policy could’ve been crafted with input from industry and the broader recreational fishing community,” Gudes continued. “We are hopeful that new leadership at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will repeal this Director’s Order and develop public policy in a way that is open, inclusive and based on science.”