The legislature’s IFW committee voted today to postpone a decision on a bill to require biodegradable hooks and lures for freshwater fishing. The IFW department said they are concerned about the impact of these hooks and lures, and reported they’d organized a task force to address this issue.
IFW said they’d examined the stomachs of 20,000 fish over the last 20 years and found that these hooks and lures did impact fish. They presented 2 detailed studies and reports on this issue by other agencies, one of which is in Canada. One study reported that bass are not as affected as much as trout and salmon. The committee was told that soft plastics are mostly used in Maine’s bass waters.
IFW also reported on the process that led the legislature to ban lead sinkers, something I supported after a loon behind my house died after ingesting a lead sinker.
IFW presented a number of recommendations. But they surprised me when they said they don’t have the ability now to research this issue. They did note a need for anglers to use new products that limit the chance of losing the lures in the water.
The second issue on the committee’s agenda today was a bill to require insurance on motorized watercraft with more than 75 horsepower motors. The Bureau of Insurance held a meeting with stakeholders to discuss the issues involved in the bill. They said boat insurance is available in Maine, but some boat owners might not be able to buy that insurance. Game wardens are concerned about difficulties with enforcement of an insurance requirement. Some other states do require boat insurance.
Legislators did express concerns about the difficulty of requiring boat insurance. Rep. Catherine Nadeau said she had insurance for her boat and asked why this would be a problem for wardens. A warden explained it would be a problem for nonresidents. And he said we don’t have a lot of boat crashes and very few personal injuries. It was also noted that Maine’s marine patrol would be responsible for enforcing the insurance requirement in tidal waters.
The bill was tabled for 2 weeks because the sponsor, who is ill, was unable to attend.
The committee also spent 2 hours discussing the report and recommendations of the ATV task force, and is expected to create a bill that responds to the recommendations.
On Wednesday the committee will work on bills about landowner relations, turkey hunting, and bear hunting. I will post a column that day about any action they took.