On Thursday, September 15, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) released a final rule announcing the prohibition of lead fishing tackle on certain National Wildlife Refuges that are being opened to fishing. The American Sportfishing Association issued the following statement from Vice President of Government Affairs Mike Leonard.
“It is deeply disappointing that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) ignored science and the concerns of the sportfishing industry. USFWS is charged with ensuring fish and wildlife resource management is rooted in the best available data and science. This proposed rule runs counter to that charge, and sets a dangerous precedent for future unwarranted bans on fishing tackle. Although USFWS states that this decision is based on concerns that lead ammunition and tackle have negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of both humans and wildlife, USFWS provided zero evidence of lead fishing tackle causing any negative impacts in these refuges.
“As we have previously said, ASA and the entire sportfishing community fully support science-based conservation initiatives. Our industry has long made sacrifices for the betterment of the environment and wildlife. While anglers should have the choice of whether they want to use alternatives, it is important to recognize that non-lead tackle may be more expensive and perform worse.
“We hope that USFWS realizes the error they made in this rule and reconsiders its implementation. Anglers should be able to keep using traditional fishing tackle as they have for generations.”