CONCORD, N.H. – A bill banning a type of lead fishing tackle blamed for killing loons will be law in New Hampshire in three years.
Gov. Maggie Hassan signed the bill Tuesday that gives retailers time to sell the banned tackle to people living in states where it is legal. The ban takes effect June 1, 2016, and prohibits the use of lead-weighted hooks known as jigs that weigh an ounce or less. Selling the banned jigs will be a violation with a fine of up to $250.
The current law prohibits lead jigs that are an inch long or less.
New Hampshire lists the loon as a threatened species and was the first state to pass a partial ban on lead tackle in 1998.
“Ensuring a bright economic future for New Hampshire and maintaining our high quality of life means protecting our wildlife and preserving what makes our state special. This commonsense, bipartisan measure will help protect our fragile loon population from deadly lead poisoning, preserving an important part of the natural beauty of New Hampshire that drives our tourism economy,” Hassan said in a statement.
The New Hampshire Loon Preservation Committee says 49 percent of adult loons die as a result of ingesting lead fishing tackle and half of those deaths are from tackle that is currently legal. Loons typically don’t breed for the first six years, making the loss of adults devastating to population growth.
Bill opponents argued they weren’t convinced the measure will reduce loon deaths, which they said vary annually. Some also worry the ban will hurt local businesses and potentially could mean a loss of bass fishing tournaments in New Hampshire that draw competitors from around the country.