Friday, March 2, 2012

To Lead or Not to Lead is the Question

Nunzio PratoThe banning of all lead in fishing tackle because it is ingested by wildlife resulting in lead exposure has become a very controversial topic. This topic is taking on a life of its own. Some people believe that environment lobbyists have extremely blown it out of proportion, while others feel that the government has not taken it seriously enough. There are always two sides to the story, and then there are the facts. I myself am interested in keeping the environment a clean and healthy place for my four young children.

They love the outdoors and fishing as much as me, and I want them to grow up and be able to continue that enjoyment with their own kids someday. So, I decided to dive a little deeper into this lead ban and find out some of the facts.


The Center for Biological Diversity is one group of many that want to make it a federal law to stop all lead in tackle. Recently (EPA) has rejected their petition. The entire report can be read at http://www.epa.gov/oppt/chemtest/pubs/TSCA_Lead_Sinker_Petition_Response_Signed_2012-02-14.pdf


After careful review, EPA has determined that, while the petition does provide evidence of exposure and a risk to waterfowl in some areas of the United States, it does not provide a basis for finding that the risk presented is an unreasonable risk for which federal action under section 6(a) of TSCA is necessary to adequately protect against such risks…”


At a local level I found that Waterfowl are picking up lead shot as grit (in shallow marshes) to help with digestion, and unfortunately, some fowl have ended up dying of lead poisoning. I would like to add that lead shot is not exactly tackle, and it is extremely rare to see a bird eating a jig or spinnerbait, at least in my experience.


Are our priorities a little skewed when it comes to such things? There aren’t too many groups screaming about the fecal matter that these birds (I mean Canadian geese or now, what seem to be called Long Island Geese) spill out everywhere, which can be a health hazard to those, such as my kid’s, who fish the shoreline. If my kids ingest the feces somehow (simply picking up a rock from the ground, kids are just not aware). I would have to believe that it is far worse than the same bird trying to eat the jig I lost 10 feet under the water.


With that said, I come to New Hampshire. Their interest for a lead ban is mainly because they are trying to protect a species, the Loon. Here is a very solid argument, and it is great they are protecting an endangered species. Get the full details here regarding lead and fishing tackle deaths. http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Fishing/Fishing_PDFs/Lets_Get_the_Lead_Out.pdf


“In 2006…seven out of 16 dead adult loons studied during the breeding season were known to have died from ingesting lead sinkers and jigs. This represented a 1.3 percent loss to the state’s total loon population.”


According to the Loon Preservation Committee, they are averaging about 5 loon deaths per year and last year they found 12 lead poisoned loons.
You can read the whole article here http://www.sentinelsource.com/community/weeklies/lead-fishing-tackle-ban-idea-is-fueled-by-loon-deaths/article_71ed4179-f695-5969-9544-140510442a3a.html
There’s no question that the loon is affected by lead fishing tackle and has resulted in the unfortunate deaths of some of them. This ban will ultimately help preserve a species that has been fighting to keep their existence.


I also thought who benefits from a ban of all lead? Are politicians pushing this or companies? Who is tied to the manufacturer that is going to mass produce all the new tackle? Because let’s face it being green and environment friendly is not cheap. Fishing is a multi-billion dollar industry. When push comes to shove, fishermen are going to purchase all new tackle.


Like a friend said “A ban would decimate small business owners that depend on the fishing industry. Not to mention the loss of income from fishing licenses that won't be bought.”


I found there are some legitimate cases, and probably a real cause for the ban of lead fishing tackle, I respect that. And yet, at the same time I also find that I am not entirely convinced that the banning of lead fishing tackle is going to save the environment.


Nunzio PratoYou have to ask, are we as fisherman really that bad? Is there overwhelming proof that the environmental changes and large number of bird deaths are caused by solely using spinner baits and jig heads, or a is going to impact the whole ecosystem? All fishermen need to continually take care of the environment, cleaning up behind themselves and not purposely leaving tackle behind, because that will help our environment overall.


However, the one question still lingers, to lead or not to lead?

By Nunzio Prato

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