Precisely at a time when fish are biting across the coast, it’s good news Congress made is clear last week they’re not going to side with environmental groups when it comes to eliminating lead from fishing tackle and ammunition.
In Tuesday’s debate on the omnibus federal spending bill, a majority in the House and Senate voted to include a provision that will prohibit federal funds from being used to regulate lead use by fishing and ammunition manufacturers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates the use of lead under the Toxic Substance Control Act.
To be fair to the EPA, this federal agency has constantly turned aside environmental groups’ moves to ban lead used by fishermen, hunters and shooters, but that has led to constant pleas by anti-fishing organizations to require anglers to use only non-lead tackle.
American Sportfishing Association President Mike Nussman claimed it to be a small victory for ASA members that range from boat makers, fishing groups, tackle manufacturers and major fishing retailers.
“We applaud Congressional leadership ... for protecting the nation’s 60 million anglers from unjustified restrictions on fishing equipment that anglers have safely used for decades,” Nussman said Wednesday.
For years, ASA and its individual members have battled this issue: “On multiple occasions, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been petitioned by anti-fishing organizations to federally ban fishing tackle containing lead based on its impact on wildlife, a position that is not based on sound science.”
It’s Nussman’s last words in that statement that have drawn sportsmen’s ire since the small number of enviro protesters raised the issue three decades ago, about wildlife ingesting lead from fishing lures and lead contamination of meat in animals taken by hunters.
While there is a case to be made against lead shot in migratory waterfowl hunting, the enviros have never made a strong case for banning lead in fishing tackle and in bullets.
The warning for sportsmen is that this most recent move by Congress simply is a temporary fix, and that’s where the outcomes of the mid-term elections will come into play. It was no deep secret the Democrat-controlled Senate derailed this year’s Sportsmen’s Package Bill.
When Congress convenes for the 114th Session next month, issues raised in that long-sought legislation certainly will come to the House and Senate floors. This year’s election results should change the outcome, and grant our country’s millions of hunters and fishers the right to hunt and fish — and be free from arbitrary and capricious regulations.
Now we have to hope our “new” Congress can do something with recreational red snapper regulations, and continued moves to up outboard-killing ethanol gasoline percentages.