California is first again in another controversial ban – this one will affect the state’s anglers. On Monday, the California Department of Toxic Substances (DTSC) announced its decision to move forward in the ban of lead in common fishing tackle. This announcement comes weeks after the state announced its plans to ban lead ammo during the 2015 hunting season.
Last week, DTSC released a draft of its Priority Product Work Plan, the first program within Governor Jerry Brown’s Green Chemistry Initiative, that identifies seven product types (including fishing sinkers and gear that contain metals like lead, zinc, and copper) to be banned within the state. Not only is this decision to ban lead within common fishing tackle an incredibly costly process, but it is also one that will most likely accelerate the steady decline in fishing participation, which would affect jobs and state revenue, according to the Outdoor Wire.
DTSC admits that it has no scientific evidence showing lead as an environmental problem in California, yet continues to move forward with the decision. In fact, the EPA ruled that lead weights did not pose an unreasonable risk to wildlife in 2010 and last December President Obama prohibited the use of federal dollars to ban lead fishing weights, according to the Outdoor Wire.
“Existing state regulations have already contributed to a significant decline in fishing participation,” says David Dickerson, president of the California Sportfishing League (CSL).
“Additional regulations will not only encourage fishing gear manufacturers to flee California to business friendly states. Furthermore, when fishing is no longer an accessible and affordable source of recreation for millions of anglers, it will have a substantial impact on California’s economy and jobs.”
A recent study conducted by CSL showed that the two biggest factors leading to the decline in California’s fishing participation were high costs and unwarranted limitations. The study found that annual fishing licenses have dropped by more than 55% since 1980 and are expected to continue to decline. But it’s not just recreational anglers who oppose the ban. Regulatory and industry experts worry that this decision could lead to a ripple effect through the fishing industry.
“The proposed regulations will increase the likelihood that manufacturers, sellers and retailers of fishing weights and gear will be subjected to costly and onerous regulations, and potential fines,” Maureen Gorsen, an environmental attorney at Alston & Bird, LLP and former director of DTSC, said in a recent Newswire article. “The result could be a wide range of enforcement options requiring restrictions or bans on sale, product reformulation, additional environmental impact studies, development of disposal programs or funding for fundamental research and development. The bottom line is that the cost of manufacturing fishing gear will increase significantly and these costs will be passed on to consumers.”
While CSL has been the most vocal in its opposition to the ban, other California associations like the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Travel Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the California Parks Hospitality Association, the California Association for Recreational Fishing, the American Sportfishing Association, Coastside Fishing Club as well as hundreds of individual anglers have all submitted letters in favor of delisting fishing gear. Anglers opposed to the ban can sign a petition available on the CSL’s website.