Thursday, 7 November 2019
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
223. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the way in which areas will be classified as wetlands by her Department in terms of the proposed banning by the European Commission of lead pellet firearm cartridges for use in wetland areas in the EU; the mapping technology under consideration to aid this approach; if there will be a public consultation period established to hear from stakeholders on the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45928/19]
The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) was developed under the UN Convention on Migratory Species. Ireland signed up to the Agreement in 2003. The agreement includes a commitment that “Parties shall endeavour to phase out the use of lead shot for hunting in wetlands as soon as possible in accordance with self-imposed and published timetables." This is because there is slow accumulation of lead from shot in wetlands where hunting occurs. The lead is generally harmful in the environment and can also be consumed by wildfowl.
Since the Agreement was signed, the European Commission has published a draft Regulation for consideration by Member States on the use of lead shot in wetlands following a report on the matter by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). It is my understanding that the proposal, should it ultimately progress into law, would make provision for a lead-in time to facilitate the making of arrangements to source alternatives to lead shot.
My Department is aware that a ban on using lead in gunshot would raise a number of issues which would need to be considered including the mapping of wetlands and issues surrounding a transition to new guns/gunshot for many gun owners in Ireland, including farmers and hunters.
I am committed to ensuring that a transition to non-lead options would be addressed in consultation with stakeholders. My Department recently submitted a document for circulation to the REACH Committee of the European Union suggesting an extended lead-in time to enable hunters and farmers and other stakeholders in the country to make the necessary arrangements.