In 2003 Ireland signed up to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) which commits Ireland to phasing out the use of lead shot for hunting in wetlands. This is to combat the slow accumulation of lead from shot in wetlands where hunting occurs. The lead is harmful in the environment and can also be consumed by wildfowl.
Additionally, the European Commission has published a draft Regulation on the use of lead shot in wetlands, which, should it progress into law, will necessitate a move to alternatives to lead shot. The majority of Member States already have some restrictions on the use of lead shot over wetlands.
My Department is aware that any change to the regulations around the use of lead in gunshot could provide a range of difficulties to transition to new guns/gunshot for many gun owners in Ireland, including farmers and hunters, as many gun owners could have to make alternative arrangements, in many cases to purchase new guns.
My Department and the other relevant Government Departments are fully committed to ensuring that this matter is addressed in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including farmer and hunters, and that all potential impacts are fully considered. This process of consultation is continuing. All proposals will be comprehensively evaluated, including extended lead-in times.