NH House Republicans Comment on House Passage of Bill Restricting Fishermen

CONCORD – Today House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett), and members of the House Fish and Game Committee, Assistant House Republican Leader Elisabeth Sanders (R-Danville) and Rep. John Burt (R-Goffstown) offered the following comments in reaction to the passage of SB89, a bill that would restrict the types of tackle New Hampshire fishermen can use, based on anecdotal evidence of loon deaths possibly due to ingesting lead. The bill passed 225-142.

House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett)

“Although it’s very sad that lead may have caused the death of a handful of loons, there is not enough evidence to ban an entire type of tackle that fishermen use. Fishermen come to New Hampshire from all over the region to fish in our lakes and rivers. Fish & Game Department has indicated this law would be nearly impossible to enforce. We need more study before we pass any measure as drastic as this bill. Our state’s sportsmen and outdoor industry deserve as much.”

“Last year’s interim study committee concluded that more time was needed to thoroughly examine this issue and that no legislation should be introduced in 2013. Until we have a conclusive report, this legislation is premature.”

Assistant House Republican Leader Elisabeth Sanders (R-Danville)

“After spending 6 hours listening to committee hearing testimony on SB89, and after much research to learn more facts, I am very disappointed that SB89 passed. It seems that the wishes of our anglers have been replaced with exaggerated tales of disaster. I believe that before more restrictive laws are enacted, additional unbiased studies should take place. The bill did not have the support of the Fish and Game department and commissioners. The average loss of 5-6 adult loons per year due to lead ingestion is tragic. The loss of angler confidence in our legislative decisions may have the unintended consequence of the tragic loss of fishing related revenue.”

Rep. John Burt (R-Goffstown), House Fish & Game Committee

“The science behind this legislation is unproven. We shouldn’t base a legislative decision affecting a $1.2 billion industry in New Hampshire on an unproven claim. The majority of our committee supported the recommendation of the Fish and Game Department on every bill, except for SB89. I believe we should have listened to them, the enforcement agency, and not have rushed to pass this bill they say is unenforceable they say won’t save any loons.”