February 22, 2021

Science Trumps Emotion on Misguided Attempt to Ban Soft Plastic Lures in Maine

Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States

On February 17, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) provided an update for the Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife regarding the report on Legislative Document (LD) 695, “An Act to Require Biodegradable Hooks and Lures for Freshwater Fishing.”

As previously reported, LD 695 was introduced in 2019 and would have prohibited fishing in inland waters using nonbiodegradable hooks or certain nonbiodegradable artificial lures. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted written testimony in opposition to this bill, which was ultimately sent to study with a focus group composed of anglers and key fishing industry stakeholders. This group, which held four meetings, was tasked with reporting back to the Committee on its findings by January 2020. A key highlight from this report stated the following: “There is no compelling evidence in Maine regarding the extent that more expensive hooks made using different coatings or materials are being used by anglers, but based on extensive sampling, monitoring, and management of fish populations by MDIFW fisheries biologists there is no field data to suggest their use is adversely affecting the health of fish populations.” On February 5, 2020, the Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reported out as “Ought Not to Pass” on this legislation.

With the Committee having a new composition, the MDIFW provided a status update on its efforts to follow through with the suggested recommendations made within the report. Francis Brautigam, Director of Fisheries for the MDIFW, stated that the Department has developed a plan to implement its education and outreach on reducing the waste of soft plastic lures in Maine’s waters, including the rollout of the MDIFW’s “Fishing with Soft Plastic Lures” page. The Department also plans to conduct an angler survey, gauging the general awareness as to the proper disposal of this popular fishing tackle. Following the results of the survey, the MDIFW will assess what further actions are needed in its educational campaign.

CSF will continue to remain engaged with the MDIFW and industry partners on this matter and will provide updates as they are available.

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?

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