NEW York State has banned the sale of leads of 0.5oz or less on the grounds that they are a threat to wildlife.

Anglers will still be able to use leads they already own, but the hope is that the move will promote the manufacture of alternatives.

The new bill follows the lead taken by neighbouring states, some of which have banned their use altogether.

Governer George Pataki, who signed the bill, said: “The toxic effects of lead are a threat to wildfowl and these new restrictions will help protect birds and other wildlife.”

Conservationists in the US have also welcomed news that there has been in decline in the number of marine fish ‘in jeopardy’ for the first time since 1997.

Dr William Hogarth told the US House of Representatives Committee on resources that the number of fish stocks affected by over-fishing fell to 93 from last year’s record high of 107.

A delighted Mike Nussman, president of the American Sportsfishing Association, said: “This shows that the tough traditional management measures put in place by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 are working. Indications are that we’ve reversed the decline and are climbing back towards are recovery.

A mixture of large-scale commercial closures and size and catch limits have helped bring about this success, he added.

Unlike in the UK, anglers pay for their fishing in the United States and thus have a strong voice. Their 12 million anglers contribute tens of millions of dollars each year for marine fisheries management through licence fees and excise taxes.

Tackle Trade World