State agencies working toward total lead ban with fishing gear targeted next
By JIM MATTHEWS
After banning all lead-based ammunition for hunting, the state is moving forward to ban lead in fishing products.
It doesn’t matter there wasn’t the scientific data to justify the lead ammunition ban, and it doesn’t matter there is even less science to justify a ban on lead fishing tackle; the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has continued to move forward with its work plan that would examine seven categories of consumer products that could adversely impact aquatic resource or harm children or workers.
Lead fishing products were included by the DTSC’s “Green Ribbon Science Panel” because of a concern about “products such as fishing weights and sinkers made from lead that are used to add weight to a fishing line, lure, or hook.” The April report said, “Lead poisoning associated with the ingestion of lead fishing weights has been well documented in a variety of bird and animal species around the world.”
Well, yes, that’s true. But with the exception of California condors where lead ammunition MAY have been having a detrimental impact on a population level (and maybe not), there is not a single study or report that says lead ammunition or fishing tackle is negatively impacting the population size of any species. Individual birds may die occasionally from lead poisoning because of ingesting a lead sinker (loons in particular), but the deaths are not significant to the loon population. In every case, there is more loss to other man-made causes than to lead poisoning caused by fishing tackle (or lead ammunition for that matter).
This is an agenda, not a science-driven effort. So knowing that, you have to ask what is going on here.
When groups like the Humane Society and Center for Biological Diversity, radical anti-use groups masquerading as animal welfare and environmental organizations, had their petitions to ban lead ammunition and fishing tackle rejected by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (which still tries to make most of its decisions on at least thin science), they moved to the state level. Here in California, those two groups are in bed with the Governor’s office and state legislature. (You know an HSUS big wig used to walk the Governor’s dog daily, right?) HSUS is a group that has vowed it will end hunting and fishing in this country is now involved internally with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and Fish and Game Commission, the two state agencies that set hunting and fishing seasons.
That would be like putting a Klu Klux Klan leader on a Civil Rights Commission to add balance.
But that is what we have done in California with hunting and fishing agencies and commissions. The anti-groups have teamed up and even convinced the more mainstream environmental groups that lead is a bad in any and all circumstances -- never mind science -- and that it has no place in the Golden State. Or does everyone just think fishing and hunting are bad today?
I’m beginning to have the same feeling about the lead fishing tackle ban that I had about the legislation banning lead hunting ammunition: If the anti-lead crowd can’t get their way administratively through the DTSC, there will just be another bill come out of our left-wing legislature that will be promoted and then signed by the Brown Stain (my affectionate name for the Governor).
While there is no “condor” in the lead fishing tackle debate, the final legislation that banned lead ammunition for hunting was passed even after it was becoming painfully clear that lead ammunition was NOT the source of most lead in condors. There was still a lot of talk about lead and condors, but everyone who voted for and signed that bill knew the facts. They didn’t care. Any time they could get at guns and gun owners, Sacramento was on board -- especially when they could hide behind the condor half-truths and outright lies.
But with lead fishing tackle, it shouldn’t be so easy. Wrong? The anti-fishing folks will find a few liberal, quasi-environmental fishermen who will talk about the horrible problems caused by lead fishing sinkers, lead jig heads, lead spoons, and flies weighted with lead. If the fishing community wins within the DTSC, the anti-fishing groups will simply go to the legislature and say we need to ban lead fishing tackle and introduce a bill. They will lie that fishing groups support it. They will lie (like they did with non-lead ammunition) and say the cost difference is insignificant. They will lie and say alternatives are just as good. And the bill will pass.
By the way, just so you don’t think this is only about a handful of California residents, the mere million or so people who still fish in this state that you don’t care about; you should know that the other “consumer products” on the DTSC’s list to examine were personal care and hygiene products, building and household products, office furniture, cleaning products, clothing, and office machinery.
If the DTSC is approaching these other categories in the same way as fishing tackle products, be assured that two things will happen: Costs of these products will go up (resulting in more taxes), and your safety won’t be improved.
[Anglers who would like to get involved in fighting the ban on lead fishing products should contact the California Sportfishing League at 916-936-1777 or via their website at www.SportfishingConservation.org.]
DFW and Pheasants Forever look at
25-year ringneck pheasant decline
A major Department of Fish and Wildlife press release this past week touted that the state wildlife agency and its partners were examining the reasons for a statewide ringneck pheasant population decline that has been going on for over 25 years.
The workshop was really put together by Pheasants Forever (and its sister organization Quail Forever). PF and QF are a non-profit hunter-conservation groups that raise money and utilize volunteer manpower to actually do on-the-ground projects that benefit gamebirds. This work used to be the responsibility of the state wildlife agencies, but our state DFW abdicated that roll decades ago -- or about the time the pheasant decline began.
The reality is that the DFW-PF workshop held early this month showed that the scientist know exactly what has caused the pheasant decline, but what they couldn’t answer was why the DFW has done nothing during the past 25 years to improve habitat for pheasants, even on state-managed wildlife areas and ecological reserves.
Pheasants were introduced into California in the 1890s and became the state’s most popular gamebird by the 1950s and 60s, when about 250,000 bird hunters annually pursued wild pheasants. Ironically, we don’t have that many total hunters left in California, and fewer than 30,000 a year hunt pheasants each year, and many of those hunts are for pen-raised birds, not wild birds.
So what’s the point? Here’s the last paragraph of the press release and you read between the lines. The last sentence is telling:
“Pheasants Forever is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 140,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. Since its creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $577 million on 475,000 habitat projects benefiting 10 million acres nationwide.”
Do you think the DFW wants to steal some credit for the work PF and QF chapters are doing here? That would be fine if they would just get out of the way and let the volunteers do the work the DFW should be doing.
NRA Town Hall meeting to be
held in the belly of the beast
The National Rifle Association is hosting a town hall meeting in the belly of the beast, downtown Los Angeles, at the appropriately-named Red Studios on Cahuenga Blvd. from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 27.
Special guest speaker is the NRA’s own Wayne LaPierre, and attendance is free for NRA members and up to three guests per member. Seats must be reserved in advance no later than May 22 by calling 855-256-3947.
Arrival by 7 p.m. is recommended because the doors will close promptly at 7:30 p.m. when the town hall kicks off.
Oh, and don’t bring your concealed carry weapon, even if you have a permit. Don’t bring any open carry guns. In fact, guns aren’t allowed on Red Studios’ grounds.
I can’t make it, so would someone ask Wayne for me why the NRA would rent a facility that doesn’t allow firearms.
Yellowtail Shootout tournament
Set for June 26-28 in San Diego
Timed to fall during the peak of the Southern California yellowtail fishing season off the coast, the 9th Annual Bloodydecks Yellowtail Shootout will be held June 26-28 out of the Kona Kai Resort in San Diego.
This year's tournament will feature the same three fish aggregate bag weight per team as last year. Teams will be allowed to weigh up to five fish. The three heaviest yellowtail will go toward a team's weight. There will also be a special prize for the angler bagging the biggest yellowtail of the event.
There will also be optional Winner-Take-All jackpots in aggregate bag and big fish categories.
Entry fee is $325 per team (up to three anglers) and the top team (three-fish) prize, which is based on 100 teams, is $5,000, with second $2,500, third at $1,000, fourth at $750, and $500 for fifth.
For more information on the event, visit www.yellowtailshootout.com.