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US fishing industry hits out at lead ban on wildlife refuges


Sportfishing leaders in the US have voiced their opposition to proposed restrictions of lead in fishing.

The protest comes in response to a US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) draft rule prohibiting the use of lead tackle on certain National Wildlife Refuges.

The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is at the vanguard of the opposition and sent a letter signed by 234 representatives of companies and organisations in the fishing industry to USFWS Director Martha Williams urging the agency to reconsider the proposal.

The letter calls on the agency to recognise that anglers be allowed to use traditional tackle unless science demonstrates negative impacts. The proposed rule provides no such evidence.

“It is impressive to see such a large number of sportfishing businesses voicing their opposition to the USFWS’s plans,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s Vice President of Government Affairs.

“While we appreciate that USFWS continues to expand fishing access at National Wildlife Refuges, the proposed rule helps legitimise arbitrarily banning lead tackle. This will only inhibit anglers’ access to the water.”

Pure Fishing representative Dave Bulthuis said that while the industry supported science-based conservation, it opposed policies that place arbitrary restrictions on anglers’ ability to fish.

“To see this many companies collectively speak out against this proposed restriction on lead tackle shows that the USFWS made a serious misstep,” he added.

“Hopefully, it’s not too late, and the Service can revise this proposal to expand fishing access without any baseless accompanying restrictions.”

The ASA urges everyone in the sportfishing community to send a message directly to the agency to urge it to reconsider the draft rule. Companies within the industry that signed up to the letter included Pure Fishing, Rapala, St. Croix Rods, Flambeau Outdoors and Havalon.

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