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Minnesota becomes latest US state to face lead ban


Attempts to ban the use of lead in fishing products continue in the US, with the latest threat coming in Minnesota.

A bill introduced by state Rep. Peter Fischer would prohibit the manufacture, sale or use of lead sinkers or jigs weighing one ounce or less or measuring under two-and-a-half inches.

The bill is similar to previous legislation raised by Fischer (DFL-Maplewood) and follows others in recent years levelled against lead’s affect on wildlife. Fischer, who said he expects his bill to be heard this session, acknowledges the impact of such a ban, but claims that ‘stakeholders want to figure this out’.

“They realise there are alternatives out there, things are moving in that direction and people are looking for it,” he said. “How do we make it happen in a way that is workable and will stick for the future and not be undone by folks who say they want to go back to lead because it’s cheap?”

Findings from a 16-year study by the Department of Natural Resources focused on five state lakes, with researchers estimating that more than 100,000 lead pieces weighing a metric ton were lost.

If passed, the legislation would ban the sale or manufacture from July 1st, 2025, with the ban on use coming a year later.

Legislation in 2022, called the Minnesota Swan Protection Act, sought to ban the use of lead fishing tackle on lakes designated as breeding-swan waters. It was killed off in a House committee.

Minnesota’s ‘Get Lead Out’ programme encourages anglers to use non-toxic tackle to avoid the risk of poisoning waterfowl. The state’s Department of Natural Resources monitors the loon population and believes it is stable.

Elsewhere, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Maine ban lead tackle in certain sizes and weights. Massachusetts bans its use but not its sale, while Washington bans specific lead tackle on specific lakes.

Large numbers of US tackle companies have introduced or are working on lead-free alternatives in their product lines, using tungsten, tin, bismuth and other materials.

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