Friday, February 17, 2012

Common Sense Prevails for Now!

If you've been buying sinkers lately you might have noticed that some stores are stocking "lead free" sinkers. It would appear that these sinkers' biggest selling point is that they are "environmentally friendly" which presumably means that regular, lead sinkers are not. But is that correct? Are lead sinkers harmful to the environment, or at least, more harmful than other alternatives?

Not according to the American Environmental Protection Agency.  On Valentine's Day ( February 14, 2012) ,  the EPA pub rejected a request to ban lead in all fishing tackle made by  the Center for Biological Diversity and two other groups claiming that lead tackle harmed water birds.

In dismissing this most recent petition, the EPA held that there was no evidence of an unreasonable risk. The decision has been applauded by fishing groups including the American Sportsfishing Association. According to the ASA:
  • The data does not support a  ban on lead in fishing equipment. In general, bird populations, including loons and other waterfowl species, are subject to many more substantial threats such as habitat loss through shoreline development, waste and other pollutants. Any lead restrictions on fishing tackle need to be based on sound science that supports the appropriate action for a particular water body or species.
  • A federal ban on the use of lead in fishing tackle will have a significant negative impact on recreational anglers and fisheries resources, but a negligible impact on waterfowl populations - the most cited reason for the ban.
  • Depending on the alternative metal and current prevailing raw material costs, non-lead fishing tackle products can cost from nine to twenty times more than lead products. Non-lead products may not be as available and most do not perform as well. Mandatory transitioning to non-lead fishing tackle would require significant and costly changes from both the industry and anglers.
  • A federal ban of lead fishing tackle oversteps the EPA’s authority. Any impact of lead on waterbird populations is a localized issue which, when scientifically documented and determined to be a population threat, should be addressed by state fish and wildlife agencies through local fishing regulations.
  • America’s 60 million anglers generate more than $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy, creating employment for more than one million people.
Any real fisherman is also a real environmentalist, and it's in everyone's interest to protect the natural environment and the birds, animals and fish in it. It's unfortunate that some groups feel that they should pursue certain agendas without any supporting evidence, instead of focusing their energies on the areas that science shows can really make a difference.

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