Moving toward using lead-free fishing tackle


An average Canadian angler can lose 11 to 15 jigs and sinkers per year while fishing due to snags and other reasons. This adds up to about 460 tonnes of lead jigs and sinkers lost every year into Canada’s lakes and waterways. This represents the most significant source of lead releases into Canadian waters.

Lead is a highly toxic metal that can cause detrimental effects to the nervous and reproductive system in humans. With respect to wildlife, the ingestion of small lead fishing sinkers and jigs is a major cause of death in breeding Common Loons in Canada, often exceeding the death rate caused by trauma, disease and entanglement in fishing gear. Ingesting them can lead to blindness, muscle paralysis, reduced ability to reproduce, seizures and death.


There are several viable non-lead sinkers and jigs available in the Canadian market. Anglers can use sinkers and jigs made from non-poisonous materials such as tin, bismuth, antimony, steel, brass, tungsten, terpene resin putty and polypropylene. These alternatives have minimal cost compared to overall fishing expenditures.

Anglers who fish in Canada’s national parks and wildlife areas have been using lead-free sinkers and jigs since the 1990s. However, other Canadian waters continue to be polluted by lead fishing tackle that has been lost. Together, we can protect the great Canadian Loon by choosing to use and promote the use of non-lead fishing tackle. If they are not available at your sporting goods store, ask them to carry them.

How to be involved

To start the conversation, we welcome your ideas in designing an approach to encourage the use of lead-free sinkers and jigs including:

  • how to spread the message to encourage lead-free fishing
  • what actions could be implemented to increase accessibility of non-lead products
  • what practices could be implemented to mitigate resulting risks in Canada
  • how we could engage and build upon existing initiatives
  • what additional information we should consider

Be part of the conversation to design an approach to encourage alternatives by providing your input, before June 1st, 2018, by email to

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