February 27, 2021

Europe will restrict the use of lead in hunting and fishing


The European Union plans to drastically reduce, within two years, the amount of lead used in ammunition for hunting and fishing gear, in order to avoid its dispersion in the environment, with the damage that this entails for species and ecosystems .

The European Commission (EC) will restrict the use of lead in hunting and fishing inside or outside wetlands in order to avoid its negative effects on the environment and will promote the use of steel as an alternative material for these uses, the agency reported. Eph.

Lead has been commonly used in ammunition and fishing gear for decades and, according to estimates by the European Chemicals Agency, between 21,000 and 27,000 tonnes are dispersed in the EU environment per year from these uses, 20% of which correspond to those that contaminate wetlands.

Hunting ammunition is consistently lead. Photo: Depositphotos

This dispersion occurs because only a small proportion of lead shots reach their target, while the rest are disseminated in the environment, and many birds ingest them mistaking them for food, as is the case of some aquatic such as ducks, geese and swans, although it has also been observed in other species.

Bird poisoning and food chain

The new EC guidelines, which are within the framework of the European Union (EU) regulations on chemicals, seek to significantly reduce contamination by this mineral to prevent the preventable death from poisoning suffered by about 1 million waterfowl each year.

Plumb bobs commonly used in fishing tackle

Ingestion poisoning thus creates a chain of transmission, as the predatory or scavenger species inadvertently consume lead fragments that are present in the prey’s tissues, a route of exposure called “secondary poisoning.”

These measurements, which will begin to apply in two years They will “harmonize and improve” the effectiveness of national legislation that already exists in 24 Member States and that limits the use of lead bullets in wetlands, as the Commission stresses.

The restriction supports the objectives of the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability and the European Green Deal, and represents the first concrete result of the new EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030.

Hunting and fishing associations in Spain and other countries have long expressed their disagreement with this type of measure, considering that ammunition and gear hardly cause significant damage to the natural environment, and they use reports made by experts.



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