Lead ammunition is no longer allowed in wetland hunting

«A million waterfowl will be saved annually from lead poisoning», says SPEA

Using lead ammunition in all wetlands, and in the 100 meters around it, in the 27 countries of the European Union and also in Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein has been prohibited since February 15, advances the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA).

Regulation EC 2021/57 is now in force after EU countries have been given two years to prepare for the change.

“Lead is a highly toxic heavy metal. When ingested by waterfowl it can cause death. With this legislation in force, it is estimated that around 1 million waterfowl will be saved annually, which currently die of lead poisoning from firearm projectiles, and contamination by this heavy metal in ecosystems and in life will be stopped. wild in wetlands. Exposure to lead can also have serious consequences for people, especially children», stresses SPEA.

The ammunition used in hunting waterfowl contains, according to society, small pellets of lead, which after shooting are dispersed and accumulated at the bottom of estuaries, lagoons, swamps, dams, dams and rice fields - which leads to pollution of European wetlands with 4000 to 5000 tonnes of lead annually.

With this ban now in force, secondary poisoning of birds of prey and necrophagous species is expected to decrease and the risk of lead poisoning for people who regularly consume game meat to be reduced.

According to SPEA, the C6 Environment NGO coalition has been working intensively with European partners and institutions and with the guardianship and the confederations of hunters in Portugal during the last 20 years so that the use of this type of dangerous ammunition is prohibited.

“Lead has been banned in plumbing, paint, batteries, fuel and pretty much everything else for several decades now, so it made no sense for hunting activities to continue to be allowed to spread lead in wetlands – if there were alternatives. With this new legislation, the EU has addressed a significant part of the problem. Now we expect Portugal to ensure that the ban is effectively implemented», says Domingos Leitão, executive director of SPEA.

In Portugal, until now, the use of lead ammunition was only prohibited in hunting in wetlands, within a limited list of protected areas.

However, «the application and supervision of this norm was always shrouded in doubts and difficulties», recalls SPEA.

With this community regulation, which is now in force, the ban is extended to all wetlands. But, for an effective application and supervision of this Regulation in Portugal, the C6 understands that it is important to clarify.

«The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Action, which oversees hunting, must promote the necessary adaptations in hunting legislation, to make it clear to hunters and supervisory bodies that lead ammunition cannot be used in any type of hunting in all wetlands. If this is not done, we run the risk of non-compliance with the European standard, with all the negative consequences that may result», concludes SPEA, regretting that the ban does not go beyond wetlands.