by Robert Moos, Lands and Forests Committee
Lead is a known to be a serious environmental contaminant. The on-going situation in Flint, Michigan, where the water supply was contaminated by lead, demonstrates how serious a problem it can be. Yet, many of us inadvertently may be harming our Georgian Bay wildlife with lead. How? By using lead fishing tackle, such as sinkers.
The effects of lead shotgun pellets on waterfowl and aquatic creatures were well documented. Back in the 1970s and 1980s studies showed that millions of birds were dying of lead poisoning each year because they ingested lead shot that had found its way into aquatic ecosystems. In many jurisdictions this eventually brought about a ban on lead shot for waterfowl hunting. In Canada the ban took effect in 1999. The lives of millions of birds have been saved.
However, lead fishing tackle remains legal in Canada (except in national parks, where it is prohibited). Environmental groups have sought a ban but there has been opposition from some quarters. Consequently, governments have opted not to take action. Lead fishing tackle is not killing as many birds and other wildlife as lead shot did, but harmful effects have been documented.
Some anglers have gotten ahead of the curve and voluntarily staring using alternatives to lead. Steel and bismuth sinkers and other tackle are available at many sporting goods stores. To help protect our Georgian Bay ecosystem and its wildlife populations, you might want to give lead fishing tackle a pass and start using alternatives.