Ryan Zinke, President Trump’s new interior secretary, announced a reversal of the Obama administration’s ban on lead used in fishing sinkers and tackle on federally controlled waters one day after his March 1 confirmation.
In a published statement, Secretary Zinke said, “Outdoor recreation is about both our heritage and our economy ... [the industry] generates thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.”
The ban was reversed, according to Zinke, to highlight the need for additional review by the fishing industry and recreational angler organizations.
“This is very good for fishermen,” said Wayne Kotow, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association California, a San Diego-based lobbying and activist organization representing recreational anglers. “Science has proven that lead sinkers are not harmful to fishermen or the environment. Show me one fisherman that has ever been diagnosed with lead poisoning. Hasn’t happened,” said Kotow.
Tungsten is an alternative heavy metal that is used for sinkers. Jason at Oceanside’s Pacific Coast Tackle store said, “Tungsten provides the same in weight at about two-thirds the size.” Other anglers feel that tungsten sinkers provide a better sensitivity feedback sitting on a lake’s bottom.
But increased cost may be an issue. At Pacific Coast Tackle, a ¼-ounce sliding sinker made of lead sells for $3.69 for a pack of six. A similar bullet-style tungsten sinker sells for $1.59 apiece.
“The anti-lead sinker fight in California is just starting,” says Coastal Conservation Association’s Kotow, as the state Department of Toxic Substances has put the industry on notice that it has begun to zero in on lead in sinkers, tackle, and ammunition.
Political Footnote: Unlike most Republicans, Secretary Zinke has championed clean-energy and global warming legislation. Prior to serving in the White House, Zinke, a former Navy Seal, served in the Montana State Senate before being elected to Congress in 2014.