Today, in response to a US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) draft rule banning the use of lead fishing tackle in some national wildlife areas, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) sent a letter signed by 234 people representing businesses and organizations in the recreational fishing industry to USFWS Director Martha Williams, urging the agency to reconsider the proposal.
The letter asks the USFWS to recognize that anglers should be allowed to use traditional fishing gear unless science demonstrates negative impacts. Under the proposed rule, the USFWS would prohibit the use of lead ammunition and/or fishing tackle in ten National Wildlife Areas that will soon be open for hunting and fishing. The proposed rule has provided no scientific evidence that lead fishing gear endangers wildlife populations in these areas.
“It is impressive to see so many sport fishing companies expressing their opposition to USFWS projects,” said Mike Leonard, ASA Vice President, Government Affairs. “While we appreciate that the USFWS continues to expand fishing access in National Wildlife Refuges, the proposed new rule helps legitimize the arbitrary ban on lead tackle. This proposal has no scientific basis and will only prevent fishermen from accessing the water.
“The sport fishing industry has always supported science-based conservation, but we will also oppose policies that place arbitrary restrictions on anglers’ ability to fish,” added Dave Bulthuis, Pure Fishing President and President. of the ASA Government Affairs Committee. “To see so many companies from across the sport fishing industry collectively speaking out against this proposed restriction on lead fishing tackle shows that the US Fish and Wildlife Service has taken a serious misstep. Hopefully that it is not too late and that the Service can revise this proposal to expand access to the fishery without any flanking unfounded restrictions.