Why It Matters: Introduced on March 1, 2023, LD 958 makes 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. On June 20, 2023, LD 958 was signed into law by Maine’s Governor, Janet Mills. Given the lack of evidence that painted lead jigs are having a population-level impact on loons, 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 led jigs will not address any identified, science-based need. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has long advocated against legislative bans on lead fishing tackle without credible scientific data and will continue to do so in Maine and across the nation.
- On Tuesday, June 20, Governor Janet Mills signed LD 958 into law.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation was one of ten organizations to sign on to 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 Tuesday, June 20, Governor Janet Mills signed LD 958 into law. With LD 958’s passage, the sale of painted lead jigs weighing one ounce or less is illegal beginning September 1, 2024, and the use of such jigs is illegal as of September 1, 2026, raising several concerns for the sporting community.
Earlier this year, 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 evidence that lead tackle is having adverse impacts on loon populations. The letter continues to state that the “annual loon count shows a progressive recovery of the state’s loon population over the past four decades” and that while “wildlife is managed by state fish and wildlife agencies on the population-level, there is no scientific evidence that suggests that painted lead jigs impact loons beyond isolated, individual instances.”
Out-of-state anglers who are unaware of any lead jig prohibitions will unfortunately run afoul of this ban, and resident anglers already utilizing such fishing equipment while angling will have to overhaul their personal inventory of tackle. Residential and non-residential anglers in the Pine Tree State are encouraged to be current on local rules and regulations before embarking on an angling adventure. 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, state agencies such as the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are funded primarily through license sales and excise taxes on outdoor goods.
While CSF has a tenured history in opposing similar legislation in the Pine Tree State, we are disappointed with the outcome and LD 958 becoming law in 2024.