Fish Lead Free

Maine Audubon provides lead-free products and lead-tackle recycling assistance for anglers and builds awareness of Maine’s current lead tackle laws.

Maine Audubon engages with partners in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts on a regional campaign to reduce loon lead poisoning. The goal of the Fish Lead Free Initiative is to increase the use of lead-free tackle on lakes and ponds throughout the region.

Here in Maine, Maine Audubon helps set up tackle exchanges across the state, delivers multi-media presentations, and serves as a resource for anglers looking to transition to lead-free tackle. Fish Lead Free Maine is a cooperative partnership between Maine Audubon, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine BASS Nation, Make Lakes Society, and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

Do you know an organization or community group that wants to help keep lead out of Maine lakes and ponds? Email us or call 207.781.2330 x219.

Read our Fish Lead Free fact sheet for more information.

Trade in your Lead Tackle

Why is fishing lead free better for our lakes and wildlife?

Lead that enters our lakes as lost or discarded fishing gear is a leading cause of death for adult Common Loons. To protect loons and other wildlife, Maine state law bans the use and sale of lead sinkers and bare (unpainted) lead head jigs that weigh one ounce or less, or that measure 2 ½ inches or less.

How do I participate?

Starting April 1, 2020, anglers can visit participating retailers and turn in at least one ounce of lead fishing tackle–lead head jigs or sinkers containing any amount of lead–for a voucher (see flyer) worth $10 off the purchase of lead-free tackle at participating stores.* (One voucher per person. Offer valid until December 31, 2025 or until all vouchers are claimed.)

* Participating Retailers Subject to change.
1. Indian Hill Trading Post (Moosehead Lake)
2. Dag’s Bait Shop (Auburn)
3. BackWoods Bait and Tackle (Chesterville)
4. Willey’s Sports Center (Ellsworth)

Tackle Buy Back Program Flyer [PDF]

Background: 2013 Lead Tackle Legislation

In 2013, the Maine State Legislature passed LD 730, An Act to Protect Maine’s Loons by Banning Lead Sinkers and Jigs. The law bans the sale and use of lead fishing sinkers one ounce or less or 2.5” long or less. A ban on bare lead head jigs one ounce or less or 2.5” long or less was phased in, with a ban on their sale in the state starting September 2016 and a ban on their use in September 2017.

The passage of the law was prompted by findings that lead poisoning from lead sinkers and lead head jigs is a leading cause of death of adult loons in Maine. Lead poisoning from lead fishing tackle was found to be responsible for close to one-third of the documented adult loon mortality over a 25-year span. For every two loons that died in Maine from natural causes like illness or disease, one loon died from ingesting a small lead sinker or jig-head. Adult loons catch fish with lead sinkers and jigs attached or they pick up lead objects while eating gravel they need from lake bottoms. Click here to view a presentation on the effects of lead on loons.

Interested in helping us spread the word about the lead tackle ban and the effects of lead on loons by sponsoring a talk, hosting a tackle exchange, or posting and distributing informational materials? Email us or call 207.781.2330 x219.