Niagara Gazette

Columns

March 19, 2013

CONFER: Government lured by plastic worms

Niagara Gazette — Soft plastic fishing lures like plastic worms and tube jigs have a proven track record of being the best artificial baits on the market, especially for the likes of bass and panfish. On the strength of these lures, professional anglers have won numerous tournaments and secured good incomes while the average weekend fisherman has landed many a trophy and filled countless frying pans.

Those days of outstanding angling success might be numbered. Believe it or not, some environmentalists have set their sights on these lures. They say that soft plastics pollute the waters and can be consumed by aquatic wildlife like loons, ducks, and otters. They also say that plastic worms sit in the bellies of fish that were lucky enough to get away from fishermen and slowly kill them over time.

Never one to ignore the concerns or demands of environmentalists – no matter how extreme or unfounded some of their views may be – government has picked up on the alleged ills of plastic baits. In Maine, state representative Paul Davis introduced a bill (HP 37) on January 17 th that would ban the use of “rubber worms” (the catch-all term for soft plastics baits) within the state.

The bill was met with ire from fisherman not only in Maine but from across the United States as well.

A Feb. 5 public hearing on the bill was standing room only while a leading angling organization, BASS (the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society), submitted testimony. Because of that — and for the fact that Representative Davis didn’t even seek co-sponsors because he knew it was a controversial topic — it’s likely that the bill will come to a quick demise.

Even so, anglers everywhere shouldn’t discount the fact that this has started a conversation that will haunt them in the coming years. This is the first bill of its kind to appear in any state government – and it won’t be the last. Fringe environmentalists are extremely opportunistic; they will pick up on this – as will state legislators or agencies across the land, which could ultimately cause a worm ban to work its way to the federal level and the likes of the Environmental Protection Agency or the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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