DETROIT, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Efforts to ban lead fishing tackle, seen as a threat to wildlife, has Michigan anglers and environmentalists at odds, observers say.
Environmental advocates say the change would save waterfowl that occasionally eat sinkers and other gear, causing death by lead poisoning, The Detroit News reported.
But many in the state's $7 billion fishing industry say if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency bans lead in lures and tackle the cost of equipment would soar for a sector hit hard by the recession.
"It'll cripple the industry," professional fisherman John Maniaci said.
A common lead sinker costs 5 cents. Alternative items, like the tungsten sinkers used in Europe and Canada, where lead laws are stricter than in the United States, run $4 a piece.
The $4 cost may sound small to someone who doesn't fish, Maniaci said, but where he fishes in Lake St. Clair, shallow water with rocks and invasive zebra mussels means he often has to cut his line when his tackle gets caught.
Under the proposed ban, each snag would cost him $3.95 more, he said.
Environmental advocacy groups petitioned the EPA in August to ban lead tackle and ammunition.
The groups presented research estimating up to 20 million birds and animals die annually from lead poisoning attributable to lead tackle.
The EPA, which is expected to announce its decision in early November, hasn't indicated how it will rule, the News reported.