Banning Traditional Fishing Tackle in California Will Cause Significant Economic Harm

Alexandria, VA – A report released on Monday by the California Coastal Conservation Association and the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) demonstrates that banning traditional fishing tackle will have a negative impact on fishing participation, which generates millions of dollars for fisheries conservation in the state.

The report, “Effects on the Ban on Traditional-Based Tackle for Fishing in California on Angler Participation and Associated Economic Measures,” was produced for ASA by Southwick Associates. By surveying anglers and manufactures, the report outlines the economic issues associated with requiring California anglers to switch to non-lead tackle, such as tungsten and tin.  Lead is by far the most prevalent, economical and arguably the best performing option for terminal tackle.

Bill Shedd, chairman of the California Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association and President of AFTCO, said, “While California ranks fifth in the nation in number of anglers, we are dead last in terms of per capita participation. However, sportfishing is an important economic generator for our state, and banning lead tackle, as currently being considered by the State of California, is another burden that would increase the cost of fishing, hurt anglers and cost our economy millions of dollars in lost revenue and almost 2,600 jobs.”

Some of the key findings include:

  • A ban on lead fishing tackle would likely reduce angler activity in California, which would in turn negatively impact the recreational fishing industry and those whose livelihoods depend on it.
  • A survey of tackle manufacturers indicated that the price impact of producing lures, flies and terminal tackle with lead substitutes would double costs on average.
  • Only 25 percent of manufacturers surveyed indicated that it was even technically feasible to currently switch to non-lead substitutes.
  • If a lead ban were to cause prices to double for lures, flies and terminal tackle, the report says that approximately 5 percent of anglers would leave the sport or nearly 80,000 anglers.
  • The surveys used in the report also suggest that anglers who continue to fish, 18 percent would fish fewer days, each fishing 21 percent fewer days on average.
  • Combined with anglers leaving the sport, this would reduce total California angler days and expenditures in recreational fishing by two million fewer angler days, and $173 million in lost revenues.
  • The $173 million in recreational fishing revenues currently supports:
    • 2,582 jobs
    • $113.6 million in salaries and wages
    • $24.2 million in state and local tax revenue
    • $26.4 million in federal tax revenues.

Scott Gudes, ASA’s vice president for Government Affairs stated, “This report shows that, in addition to the direct economic losses to recreational fishing-dependent businesses, fish and wildlife conservation programs in California would suffer as prices for tackle increase and overall fishing expenditures suffer. Not many people realize that it is anglers who pay for California’s fishery conservation programs through fishing tackle excise taxes and license fees.  A ban on lead tackle is not based on science. Anglers and conservation programs would be the losers.”

Shedd concluded, “Fishing our Pacific coastal waters from San Diego to the Oregon border is part of what makes this state great. It is part of our heritage. We need to start adopting angler-friendly policies in California and not start regulating what’s in an angler’s tackle box.”