Bill To Ban Lead Fishing Weights On Table In California

Lead fishing weight photo by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

One of the most hotly contested issues in California among the hunting and conservation communities is the state’s lead bullet ban that became news again when the Trump administration reversed the federal order (it’s yet to be seen if California’s phasing out of lead ammunition will be affected).

But a bill that was introduced on Friday by state assembly member Bill Quirk (D) would ban lead fishing weights.

Here’s a little more from the Siskiyou Daily News:

Assembly Bill 2787, introduced by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D – Hayward), would use existing hazardous waste control laws to prohibit the manufacture, sale, and purchase of any fishing weight or sinker in California if the object is under a certain size.

The ban would apply to any sinker or weight that does not have a cross section greater than or equal to 2 centimeters in length – about three quarters of an inch – is under 50 grams in mass, and contains more than 0.1 percent lead by weight. Fifty grams is approximately 1.76 ounces.

If the bill is passed, California would join Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington states, all of which have some form of ban on lead sinkers.

Quirk stated in a press release issued Friday, “Small lead fishing weights, like splitshot, are killing California wildlife. Many birds consume river gravel to aid in mashing and digesting food. Often they accidentally ingest discarded lead fishing weights. The lead poisons their liver, leading to a slow death. Water fowl, in particular, are common victims.”

The California Sportfishing League was quick to issue its own press release arguing that AB 2787 should not pass, with CSL Executive Director Marko Mlikotin stating, “There is no science that justifies banning fishing weights found in nearly every California angler’s tackle box. Making fishing too costly and less accessible will have a devastating impact on the state’s tourism industry and communities dependent on outdoor recreation for tax revenue and jobs.”

And here’s the full introduction to Quirk’s proposal:

AB 2787, as introduced, Quirk. Lead fishing weights and sinkers.
Existing law requires the Department of Toxic Substances Control to adopt regulations that establish a process for evaluating chemicals of concern in consumer products, and their potential alternatives, to determine how to best limit exposure to or reduce the level of hazard posed by a chemical of concern. Existing law requires that these regulations establish a process that includes an evaluation of the availability of potential alternatives and potential hazards posed by those alternatives and an evaluation of critical exposure pathways. Existing law requires that these regulations specify the range of regulatory responses that the department is authorized to take following the completion of the alternatives analysis.
Existing hazardous waste control laws regulate the disposal of, among other things, discarded appliances, lead acid batteries, small household batteries, lead wheel weights, and household hazardous waste. Existing law prohibits any person from managing any hazardous waste, except as provided in the hazardous waste control laws and regulations. A violation of the hazardous waste control laws is a crime.
This bill would, as part of the hazardous waste control laws, prohibit a person from manufacturing, selling, or purchasing a fishing weight or sinker in California that has no cross section greater than or equal to two centimeters in length, is under 50 grams in mass, and contains more than 0.1% lead by weight. The bill would provide, if the Department of Toxic Substances Control identifies an alternative to lead used in fishing weights or sinkers as a chemical of concern pursuant to a specified law, that the alternative remains subject to the evaluation process specified in that law. Because the bill would create a new crime, it would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.