Lead Fishing Tackle Awareness and Exchange Program

Citizens by large lake bedThe Alameda County Water District and East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) are taking bold strides in the interest of protecting the environment at the Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area in Fremont, California. In partnership, the agencies have established an innovative program that educates local anglers on the hazards of using lead fishing tackle and provides the opportunity for a no-cost exchange of toxic lead split-shot weights and sinkers for lead-free split-shot weights and sinkers. Believed to be the first fishing weight exchange program of this kind on the West Coast, the program has already received great support from local anglers.

This program was conceived and facilitated by ACWD and is fully supported by EBRPD. Practicing and promoting good environmental stewardship is an important component of each agency's core mission. Concerns regarding lead toxicity in the environment prompted ACWD to evaluate the potential adverse impacts of lead fishing weights at the Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area.

A news article featured the program as it reached a milestone - more than 1,000 pounds of lead have been collected at Quarry Lakes.

Why a Program is Necessary

Lead tackleLead is toxic to animals and humans when ingested. Birds are particularly susceptible to ingesting lead fishing tackle lost by anglers. Some birds may eat the lead weights which they mistake as snails. Other waterfowl, searching for material to swallow to help grind their food, may mistake lead weights for small pebbles. Once ingested, acid in a bird's stomach or gizzard dissolves the lead, which then enters its bloodstream and is carried to vital organs. Health impacts can range from loss of weight to the inability to fly or walk, and may even result in death. Predators and scavengers who then eat these birds are also at risk for lead poisoning. In addition, since the water in the Quarry Lakes filters down into the Niles Cone Groundwater Basin where it becomes an important water supply for the Tri-City area, any lead in the water might eventually find its way to the tap.

Fortunately, there are inexpensive and ecologically friendly alternatives to lead fishing tackle. Tin, steel, bismuth, glass, ceramic, rubber, and plastic all work just as well as lead and are not harmful to you or waterfowl.

Public Awareness

To explain the hazards of using lead fishing tackle, ACWD created the Quarry Lakes Lead Fishing Tackle Awareness Brochure. It is distributed to all Quarry Lakes anglers who purchase a fishing permit and is made available in several brochure racks around the Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area.

Fisherman exchanging tackle The Lead Fishing Weight Exchange Program

The Quarry Lakes Lead Fishing Weight Exchange Program gives anglers the opportunity to trade-in their lead split-shot weights and sinkers for lead-free split-shot weights and sinkers. This one-for-one trade is provided at no cost to the angler.

The exchange program is operated by EBRPD staff from the Quarry Lakes entrance kiosk when time permits. On one Saturday each month during peak fishing season (September through May), a Lead Fishing Weight Exchange booth is set up and operated by volunteers. The schedule for exchange events is listed below. Once an angler has exchanged their lead weights, they are encouraged to purchase lead-free fishing tackle in the future.

How the Exchange Works

Lead tackle alternativesIf you plan to fish at Quarry Lakes, please remember that lead tackle is prohibited. If you would like to trade-in your lead split-shot weights and sinkers for lead-free alternatives, here's how the exchange program works:

  • Lead weights will be exchanged for the available lead-free alternative that approximates the same shape and/or weight.
  • This is a one-for-one trade provided at no cost to the angler.
  • Limit of 15 lead weight exchanges per day (limit subject to change).
  • Lead-free tackle is not intended for resale.

Lead tackle exchange boothLead Fishing Weight Exchange Schedule

Lead fishing weight exchanges can be made out of the Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area kiosk when time permits. Please contact EBRPD at (510) 544-3130 to obtain dates and times of special Exchange events.