As we all have heard many times, trends, styles, new ideas, etc. start on our nation’s coasts and eventually work their way into the heartland of the country. Usually these new trends or ideas are welcomed, but not always. This happens to be the case with fishing and shooting sports legislation being discussed by the California legislature and other regulatory agencies in the state.
One such idea or trend is to ban lead in fishing tackle in California. The state is in the process of banning lead in shooting sports ammunition over the next four years, to be completed by 2019. California, through the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), is also planning to add lead fishing tackle and sinkers to the “product of concern” listing, a move that will cause harm to both fishermen and the state. This decision is arbitrary, without any scientific evidence or merit and will cost the state millions of dollars in lost tax revenue and funding for aquatic resource conservation. California customers need to write the DTSC to withhold traditional fishing tackle from the state’s Safer Consumer Products program.
Another trend coming out of the Golden State is the war for water tied to the four-year drought. With limited water available in the Central Valley area, the drought is pitting the salmon fishery against almond-growing farmers for water. The good news is that Senators Boxer and Feinstein have introduced legislation under S. 1894 to encourage smart use of water to protect the salmon fishery. The bad news is this same bill calls for the eradication of non-native predator species like striped and largemouth bass that have co-existed with salmon for over 100 years without any problems, and provided recreational anglers with other species to fish. It’s solely a water management, not a predator, issue and the two Senators need to amend their bill to protect species like striped and largemouth bass as well. If you reside in California, please write your Senators requesting this change.
A third “trend” is the use of drift gillnets and long lines off the California coast, resulting in by-catch problems as well as mammals and turtles becoming entangled in these nets. Recent meetings at the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) have brought these issues to light, with the council agreeing to shut down the fishery if limits on nine designated species of mammals and turtles are breached. It’s a good first step, but what is needed is the total removal of these gillnets and long lines from the California coast. If you are a California resident, go online and sign the petition to remove these fishing devices once and for all.
You may be wondering why we take an entire article to write about issues only affecting California customers and residents. Getting back to the title of this article, what starts on our coasts spreads across the US and eventually has an effect on all of us, regardless of where we live. Issues related to lead fishing tackle and ammunition, water conservation and non-discriminatory fishing devices will not be limited to California for long, and will be in your own backyard before you know it. Better to fight the battle now, before it spreads across the nation.