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 July 11th 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,” said Dave Bulthuis, president of Pure Fishing and ASA’s Government Affairs Committee Chairman, while adding “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.”
ASA previously noted that while the organization supports science-based conservation, the USFWS proposal provides no evidence that lead fishing tackle is harming any specific wildlife populations in the proposed areas. “The entire foundation of USFWS and its management of our fish and wildlife resources is meant to be based on specific data and science, yet the proposed rule would arbitrarily ban lead fishing tackle in several refuges based on unfounded and overgeneralized assumptions,” Leonard explained.
Anglers and recreational fishing industry leaders interested in chiming in on the USFWS proposal as well as President Joe Biden’s Hudson Canyon marine sanctuary proposal can visit the Take Action page at keepamericafishing.org.