Why It Matters: If enacted, LD 958 would make it illegal to sell or offer for sale painted lead jigs weighing one ounce or less or measuring 2 1/2 inches or less in length beginning September 1, 2024, and illegal to use them beginning September 1, 2026. Given the lack of evidence that painted lead jigs are having an adverse effect on loons at the population level, coupled with the fact that Maine’s loon population continues to increase in size despite the current use of painted jigs by anglers, banning the use of painted lead jigs will not address any identified, science-based need. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has long advocated against legislative bans on lead fishing tackle in the absence of any negative scientifically-based population effects and will continue to do so in Maine and across the nation.
- On Monday, May 8, the Maine Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife convened to discuss, among several bills, LD 958 – legislation that would ban the use and sale of painted lead jigs in Maine’s waters.
- CSF was one of ten organizations to sign onto a partner letter of opposition, calling on the Committee to reject LD 958.
- As is highlighted in several studies referenced within the sign-on letter, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest the use of lead tackle in recreational fishing has adverse impacts on loons and swans at the population level.
- On Wednesday, May 17, at 10:00 a.m. EDT, the Maine Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife expects to hold a work session to discuss and potentially vote on LD 958.
On Monday, May 8, the Maine Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife met in the State’s capital for public hearings on several bills – one of which being LD 958. If passed, this bill would make the sale of painted lead jigs weighing one ounce or less illegal beginning September 1, 2024, and the use of such jigs would be illegal as of September 1, 2026, raising several concerns for the sporting community.
CSF joined nine other fisheries and sportsmen’s organizations in a sign-on letter encouraging the Committee to oppose this legislation. With the bill’s title being “An Act to Expand Protections to Maine’s Loons from Lead Poisoning by Prohibiting the Sale and Use of Certain Painted Lead Jigs,” the partner letter began by referencing the lack of scientific evidence that lead tackle is having adverse impacts on loon populations. The letter continues to state that “Maine Audubon’s annual loon count shows a progressive increase in the state’s loon population over the past four decades” and that while “wildlife is managed by state fish and wildlife agencies at the population-level, there is no scientific evidence that suggests that painted lead jigs impact loons beyond isolated, individual instances.”
“Science-based natural resource management is the foundation of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and the reason why we have such abundant natural resources to sustainably enjoy in this country,” said Chris Horton, CSF’s Senior Director of Fisheries Policy. “In the absence of any biological information to demonstrate that painted lead jigs are harming loons or any other population of wildlife, LD 958 is a solution in search of a problem and an unjustified burden for anglers.”
If enacted, out-of-state anglers who are unaware of any lead jig prohibitions could potentially run afoul of this ban, and resident anglers already utilizing such fishing equipment while angling would have to overhaul their personal inventory of tackle. As the sign-on testimony states, “The bans proposed by LD 958 would mandate anglers switch to costlier tackle alternatives, discouraging the purchasing of a fishing license as well as other sportfishing goods.”
From a financial standpoint, through the American System of Conservation Funding – a unique “user pays – public benefits” structure in which those that consumptively use public resources pay for the privilege, and in some cases the right, to do so. It is through this System that tate agencies such as the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are primarily funded, which includes license sales and excise taxes on outdoor goods, including painted lead jigs.
CSF has a tenured history of opposing similar legislation in the Pine Tree State and looks forward to continued coordination with in-state and national partners and members of to Maine Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus in opposing this legislation.