By Joe Mullin, New England States Coordinator
On February 27, the Joint Committee of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife voted to postpone taking any legislative action regarding SB 208, An Act to Require Biodegradable Hooks and Lures for Freshwater Fishing. Any decision will be postponed until the 2020 legislative session.
During the public hearing Fisheries Division Director Francis Brautigam of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) suggested forming a focus group composed of anglers and fishing industry experts, ranging between those who are in support of and opposed to the nonbiodegradable lure and hook ban. The Committee favored this proposal, as it grants the opportunity for MDIFW to conduct an inclusive and comprehensive assessment into the effects of nonbiodegradable lures and hooks on freshwater fish.
This is not the first time Maine has seen legislation attempting to prohibit nonbiodegradable hooks and lures. In 2013, MDIFW researched this topic and issued a report that following year, through which it concluded no legislation was necessary in addressing nonbiodegradable lures. This decision was based heavily off of field and observational data collected by MDIFW biologists.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), in conjunction with several partner industry organizations, submitted testimony in opposition to SB 208. CSF firmly believes management decisions regarding fish and wildlife should be guided by the best available science, and commends the Committee for allowing the experts at MDIFW to examine the issue prior to taking legislative action.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?