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UN lead ammunition recommendations “illiterate” says BASC

Shooting organisations have criticised recommendations for a global phase out of lead ammunition as inappropriate, impractical and lacking a factual basis

An international agreement to ban lead shot is “technically illiterate”, “blunt” and “ineffective”, according to the UK’s largest shooting organisation, BASC.

The resolution, which recommends the phasing out of lead ammunition in all areas over three years, was adopted by the parties to the UN Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) at a conference held in Quito, Ecuador, from 4 to 9 November. It forms part of a set of guidelines to stop migratory birds being poisoned.

The parties to the convention do not have to implement all the recommendations and have the power to determine whether or how to implement the provisions of the guidelines. In doing this they must consider “the extent and type of poisoning risk, whilst having regard to their international obligations and commitments, including those under the Convention.”

BASC chairman, Alan Jarrett, called the recommendations “technically illiterate”, pointing out that they “fail to distinguish between rifle bullets and shot.” He also highlighted that the agreement did not take into account the regulations already in place in many countries, including the UK, to protect waterfowl species and their habitats from any negative effects of lead shot.

The association’s chief executive, Richard Ali, also criticised the proposals. He said: “The guidelines adopted at the conference are not evidence-based and ignore the principles of better regulation. They also ignore the regulations already in place in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, which are designed to reduce any risk to migratory waterfowl in their feeding grounds.

“Adopting sweeping resolutions at international conferences may please some delegates, but their non-binding status reflects their nature. Such resolutions do not meet the principles of good regulation. These state that regulation should be proportional to the problem which they address, and be accountable, consistent, targeted and transparent.”

He added: “BASC’s position on the use of lead ammunition is clear: No sound evidence, No change. We will continue to work at home and abroad to ensure that any decisions on regulation are based on sound science and sound principles of regulation.”

Tim Bonner, Countryside Alliance director of campaigns, said: “There is no evidence of any migratory species, other than wildfowl, being affected by lead ammunition in the UK.

“We fully accept the current restrictions on the use of lead over wetlands and when shooting wildfowl and continue to campaign for 100% compliance. However, the Alliance believes in legislation based on evidence and principle which is why we oppose a ban on all lead ammunition.

“We are therefore keen for further studies to take place and welcome the work completed by the CMS and other institutes, such as the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme, which look into the impact of lead ammunition.”

BASC, the Countryside Alliance and other European shooting bodies have been working with the Federation of European Hunting Associations (FACE) on the matter. Earlier this year, they successfully lobbied to achieve some concessions, including making the recommendation a non-binding guideline and changing it from an immediate ban to a three-year phase out, but were unable to defeat the measure entirely.

FACE’s seretary general, Filippo Segato, said: “We are pleased that the prescriptions of the resolution are not legally binding. FACE was instrumental to achieve this result, thanks to the active engagement of its members. We are however concerned about the draconian measures proposed in the guidelines.

“The proposed blanket ban an all lead ammunition is not only unrealistic but it falls short of a scientific and fact based approach. It is furthermore disquieting that the Scientific Council of CMS wasn’t capable of (nor willing) of making the distinction between lead shot and bullets. Apparently the Scientific Committee of the CMS is oblivious of the different uses of ammunition and was aiming at the hunting activity ignoring the existence of shooting sports. Much remains to be done to improve the guidelines and FACE will engage with CMS, the industry and other stakeholders to obtain a more workable, fact based solution.”

FACE has also called on the CMS secretariat to amend a press release summarising the conference that claimed a three-year complete phase out of all lead ammunition was fully supported by hunting associations. FACE has stressed to the secretariat that its members were only in favour of a phase out in wetlands, not all environments.