In response to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) draft rule prohibiting the use of lead fishing tackle on certain National Wildlife Refuges, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) sent a letter signed by 234 individuals representing companies and organizations in the recreational fishing industry to USFWS Director Martha Williams, urging the agency to reconsider the proposal.
The letter calls on USFWS to recognize that anglers should be allowed to use traditional fishing tackle unless science demonstrates negative impacts. Under the draft rule, USFWS would prohibit the use of lead ammunition and/or fishing tackle on ten National Wildlife Refuges that will soon be opened to hunting and fishing. The proposed rule provided no scientific evidence that lead fishing tackle is endangering wildlife populations in these areas.
“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 new proposed rule helps legitimize arbitrarily banning lead tackle. This proposal has no basis in science and will only inhibit anglers’ access to the water.”
“The sportfishing industry has always supported science-based conservation, but we also will oppose policies that place arbitrary restrictions on anglers’ ability to fish,” added Dave Bulthuis, president of Pure Fishing and ASA’s Government Affairs Committee Chairman. “To see this many companies from across the sportfishing industry collectively speak out against this proposed restriction on lead fishing tackle shows that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made a serious misstep. Hopefully, it’s not too late, and the Service can revise this proposal to expand fishing access without any baseless accompanying restrictions.”
In addition to organizing the letter, ASA asks everyone in the sportfishing community to send a message directly to the USFWS urging the agency to reconsider the draft rule.