EPA Denies Petition Seeking Ban on Lead Based Fishing Products
November 4, 2010 (Washington, DC) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today denied a petition calling for a ban on the manufacture and use of lead based fishing gear.
The Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy, the Association of Avian Veteranarians, Project Gutpile and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed the petition on August 3 to ban the production and sale of lead based ammunition and fishing tackle under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) of 1976.
EPA sent a letter to the petitioners today (http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/chemtest/pubs/SO.Frye.Sinker.Response.11.4.10.pdf) stating that they failed to demonstrate that the rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. The letter also states that the increasing number of limitations on the use of lead fishing gear on some federal and state lands, as well as various education and outreach activities, call into question whether a national ban on lead in fishing gear would be the least burdensome, adequately protective approach to address the concern, as called for under TSCA. EPA's letter also notes that there are non-lead alternatives currently in the marketplace.
On August 27, EPA denied the portion of the petition relating to lead in ammunition because the agency does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product under TSCA.
Seventy-eight members of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC) in September signed a letter sent to Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging the agency to dismiss the petition. The CSC members state in the letter, "There are 60 million recreational anglers in America that contribute $125 billion to our economy annually, and penalizing these men, women and children that are the best stewards of our environment, as well as the financial backbone to fish and wildlife conservation in our country, would be a terrible and unnecessary injustice."
The CSC letter came on the heels of a similar letter to Administrator Jackson requesting dismissal of the petition, sent on September 15, from the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) and partner members of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) and sportfishing communities. The National Assebly of Sportsmen's Caucuses (NASC) Executive Council also urged EPA to dismiss the petition in a letter to Administrator Jackson.
CSC member and former Chairwoman, Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, introduced S.3850 on September 28 to protect lead based traditional ammunition and fishing tackle from a potential ban by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This legislation would clarify that the components used in manufacturing shells, cartridges and fishing tackle are exempt from EPA regulation under TSCA.
"This issue is about protecting America's 60 million recreational anglers, and this attempt to ban lead based fishing tackle could potentially have driven up cost and serve as a disincentive for Americans to fish," said CSF President Jeff Crane. "A federal ban on lead ammunition and fishing gear would have also negatively impacted fish and wildlife conservation funding."
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), representing the 50 state fish and wildlife agencies, also sent a letter the EPA in September, urging them to dismiss the petition.
State fish and wildlife agencies are authorized to manage most of a state's fish and wildlife, and therefore, closely monitor and address any local concerns about lead based fishing tackle and any potential impacts on local species. A federal ban on lead fishing tackle is not only unnecessary, but intrudes upon these traditional state agencies jurisdiction.
No scientific basis has been established to warrant any such ban on traditional fishing equipment. A similar proposal to ban lead fishing tackle was dismissed by the EPA in the mid-1990s because there was insufficient data to support such a ban at that time.
Sportfishing Industry Applauds EPA's Decision to Reject Lead Ban Petition
America's anglers triumph over unwarranted petition to ban lead in fishing tackle
Alexandria, VA - November 4, 2010 - The sportfishing community commends the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for its decision to reject a sweeping petition to ban lead in all fishing tackle. The petition, which was submitted on August 3, 2010, by the Center for Biological Diversity and four other groups, requested that EPA ban all lead in all fishing tackle on all U.S. waters. The petition also included a request to ban the use of lead ammunition in the hunting and shooting sports. That part was denied on August 27 because EPA does not have the legal authority to regulate ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Opposition from anglers was strong; over 43,000 anglers sent comments requesting dismissal of the petition to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson through www.KeepAmericaFishing.org™.
In dismissing the petition, EPA indicated that the "petitioners have not demonstrated that the requested rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, as required by the TSCA." EPA also cited state-specific actions and the increasing education and outreach activities being undertaken, stating that those actions "...call into question whether a national ban on lead in fishing gear would be the least burdensome, adequately protective approach to address the concern, as called for under TSCA."
"The sportfishing community applauds EPA's decision," said American Sportfishing Association (ASA) Vice President Gordon Robertson. "It represents a solid review of the biological facts, as well as the economic and social impacts that would have resulted from such a sweeping federal action. It is a common sense decision."
Robertson further said, "Increases in the cost of recreational fishing would stop many anglers from enjoying the sport. The resultant decrease in fishing license sales and the federal manufacturers' excise tax on fishing tackle, which represent the two most important funding sources for fisheries conservation, would be a large setback for fish and wildlife managers and this country's natural resources."
"The sportfishing industry is very proud of the fact that America's anglers were united on this important issue and played a pivotal role in EPA's decision to reject this unwarranted petition," noted Robertson. "KeepAmericaFishing™ provides anglers an opportunity to present a strong, coherent voice so that they can express their concerns to decision makers. EPA's dismissal is without a doubt in direct response to the facts we presented which were soundly supported by our collective comments and input."
The sportfishing community's objection to the ban was based on:
* The data does not support a federal ban on lead sinkers used for fishing. In general, bird populations, including loons and other waterfowl species, are subject to many more substantial threats such as habitat loss through shoreline development. 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 of 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.
* Depending on the alternative metal and current prevailing raw material costs, non-lead fishing tackle products can cost from ten 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.
* America's 60 million anglers generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation's economy, creating employment for over one million people.
This is not the first time that such a ban has been requested. In 1992 EPA received a similar petition to ban lead fishing tackle and in 1995 the Agency abandoned the proposed rule because there was no threat to bird populations and the economic impact was determined to be significant. In September 2010, legislation was introduced to both chambers of Congress to prevent an overarching federal ban on lead in recreational fishing tackle (S. 3850 and H.R. 6284).
"Even with this decision, ASA will continue to work with legislators and EPA to ensure that future considerations of lead fishing tackle bans are made in response to sound science, not unwarranted petitions," concluded Robertson. "Aside from the many anglers that spoke up, many organizations and members of Congress deserve thanks for decisively voicing their opinion to EPA."
To learn more about this issue and to support the voice of the American angler, please visit www.KeepAmericaFishing.org.
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry's trade association, committed to looking out for the interests of the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry a unified voice speaking out when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. We invest in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic and conservation values of sportfishing in America. ASA also represents the interests of America's 60 million anglers who generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation's economy creating employment for over one million people.