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.
The 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.
The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 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.
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 and this will be considered by that Committee in the context of future meetings.