On April 17, by a wide bipartisan margin, the House of Representatives approved a bill that contains language that would block ongoing, unjustified efforts by anti-fishing groups to ban lead fishing tackle by petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) using a provision in the Toxic Substance Control Act. The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012, H.R. 4089, establishes an exemption for traditional fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act and clarifies the exemption that already exists for the shooting and hunting sports. The EPA has been petitioned three times in the last 18 months to ban ammunition or fishing tackle containing lead and the agency has rejected all three petitions.

“We applaud the House members for passing this legislation that will protect the sportfishing community from unwarranted and unjustified restrictions on fishing equipment,” said Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association. “Time after time the EPA has ruled that the petitioners did not demonstrate that such a ban is ‘necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.’ The House-passed provision supports and reinforces the EPA’s numerous decisions. The petitioners’ continuing efforts, through petitions and lawsuits, demonstrated a clear need for this legislative solution.”

“Our thanks go to the thousands of anglers who voiced their support for this legislation through KeepAmericaFishing™, and to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus’ leadership and members who piloted the measure through the House of Representatives,” said Robertson. “We also want to recognize the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Rifle Association and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation for their leadership on the bill.”

“There is no scientific evidence that the use of traditional fishing tackle is having an adverse impact on loons and other waterfowl populations, the reason groups most often cite as the reason for a ban,” noted Robertson. “The fact is that our nation’s waterfowl populations are healthy. The most recent population study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states that loon populations are either stable or increasing throughout most of their range. It is a shame that these groups have chosen to focus their efforts against recreational fishing and hunting, which support healthy resources, instead of the more significant threats to waterfowl such as habitat loss, gill nets, predation by domestic and feral animals and water quality problems.”

The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 also contains several provisions addressing other concerns. Among those is angler and hunter access to federal lands. With expanding land development and growing regulations restricting angler access, federally owned lands are more important than ever for recreational fishing opportunity. The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 promotes increased and more consistent access for hunting and fishing on federal public lands by directing public managers to facilitate recreational fishing and hunting on public lands and waters through their agencies’ land management plans.

“We are grateful that the House has worked in bipartisan fashion to address some of the major concerns of sportsmen and women, and we look forward to working with members of the Senate to ensure that the issues of greatest importance to the sportfishing community are addressed there as well,” concluded Robertson.

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