In 2000, New Hampshire was the first state to ban lead sinkers and jigs. The alleged justification for such ban was to protect common loons and other diving birds. In the years following, several additional bills were passed which further impacted the use of lead tackle. Last year, SB 224 was considered, which would have placed still further restrictions on recreational anglers in the state by prohibiting the sale and use of lead sinkers and jigs (including skirted jigs commonly used for bass fishing) weighing one ounce or less. After making it through the Senate last year SB 224 was sent to interim study by the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee with a finding of “Not Recommended for Legislation in 2013.” At that time, it was determined that a full year should be taken to review scientific evidence on this matter so that all concerned stakeholders could come together to discuss a common-sense solution moving forward. SB 89 is essentially the same as SB 224, and despite last year’s finding SB 89 was introduced on January 3, 2013. Not only did SB 89 disregard the one year review period, but also it did not include input from all relevant stakeholders, most importantly the organized recreational fishing community.
Imposing additional restrictions on the use of lead sinkers in New Hampshire is not biologically justified, would place an undue economic burden on the anglers who fish New Hampshire’s waters and would supersede the long-standing authority of New Hampshire Fish and Game Department – the recognized fish and wildlife experts for the state of New Hampshire – to manage the state’s fish and wildlife resources. At their most recent meeting on February 5, 2013, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously (8 in favor, 1 abstention) to oppose S.B. 89.
SB 89 will be heard in committee next Wednesday, February 20, at 9:15am. We urge you to join CSF and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission in voicing your opposition to SB 89 by contacting the members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and making your opinion heard.