February 23, 2004

Ottawa plans ban on lead-based fishing sinkers, jigs

OTTAWA, ONT-Forthcoming federal regulations will eventually prohibit the import, manufacture and sale of fishing sinkers and jigs containing lead. "Lead has toxic properties, and sinkers and jigs containing lead are taking a toll on water birds, including the loon, a bird that has come to symbolize the wilderness for many Canadians," said Environment Minister David Anderson. "Fortunately, this threat is largely preventable-lead-free sinkers and jigs are affordable, work just as well, and are becoming more readily available." Sinkers and jigs that are lost while fishing account for about 18% of all direct lead releases into the environment, and represent a major threat to water birds, such as the loon, which ingest the lead sinkers or jigs when they ingest gravel to aid digestion, or when they consume lost bait fish with lead fishing gear attached. "The Canadian Wildlife Service estimates that up to 500 tonnes of lead in the form of lead sinkers and jigs is lost in our environment every year," said Anderson. Restrictions on the use of lead sinkers in Canada's National Wildlife Areas and National Parks have been in place since 1997. Environment Canada expects to begin public consultations on draft regulations within the next six months.
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