The European Parliament has voted to ban the use of lead ammunition in wetlands across the EU. 362 MEPs voted in favour of the ban, 292 against, and 39 abstained.
Despite the REACH committee already voting to ban lead in October because of its highly toxic properties, Members of Parliament remained divided on the motion presented by far-right groups European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and Identity and Democracy (ID). ID have already submitted another objection meaning that the last, and final vote on this issue will take place sometime today, Wednesday.
Lead has been used in ammunition and fishing tackle for decades, despite knowing the terrible impact it has on humans, wildlife and nature. Lead shot, favoured by many as ammunition, consists of many tiny bullets which are sprayed out of the rifle, as opposed to shooting just one bullet. Because of this, only a small proportion of the lead fired hits its target. The rest is scattered in nature. It is estimated that around 21 – 27 000 tonnes of lead is dispersed into the EU environment per year from these uses.
Bewick’s Swan, copyright Glyn Sellors, from the surfbirds galleries
These bullets are commonly ingested by water birds such as swans, flamingos, ducks and geese, who tragically confuse them for the pebbles they use for digestion and the seeds they eat. The European Chemicals Agency estimates this results in the death of over one million water birds annually.
Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife Europe: It’s a relief and encouraging to see MEPs refuse to fall into the trap of disinformation and scaremongering that was spewed around on this issue. Everyone knows lead is toxic. We call on MEPs to continue listening to science and reject the near identical opposition tabled by the ID group today. Following the final approval of Member States, the EU can finally remove lead from our wetlands and save millions of wild birds from slow painful death. And hopefully that will be the steppingstone the EU needs to ultimately ban lead ammunition everywhere.