Skip to Content

Another missed shot: lead’s restriction still out of the REACH agenda

The European Commission has delayed action once again on tackling lead poisoning from hunting, shooting and fishing.

Today, the EU REACH Committee1 held one of its regular meetings on how to protect human health and the environment from the potential risks associated with chemicals. Yet, there was one absentee from the discussion table, not only in today’s agenda, but also throughout the last year: lead poisoning from hunting, sports shooting, and fishing.

The European Commission delayed again the presentation of the draft amendments regarding a restriction on lead in outdoor shooting and fishing to Member States. It has been a year since the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) sent their expert committee’s opinions and suggested restrictions to the European Commission. However, the Commission still hasn’t published its proposed amendment, nor justified this setback.

With every delay, lead continues to disperse into the EU environment from hunting, sports shooting, and fishing. If this remains unmitigated, an estimated 44,000 tonnes of lead will continue to be released annually from these sources, polluting our environment, and causing extensive and unacceptable toxic impacts on people, domestic animals, and wildlife.

The Commission has a huge opportunity to drive action to end this poisoning. Releasing the draft restriction to the REACH Committee now would leave a strong legacy for the current Commission and put us on a path towards meeting the zero-pollution ambition under the European Green Deal. It would also cement the EU as a leader in this space, alongside other countries and regions that are taking action, such as the USA.

On the 28th of February, Birdlife and other fellow organisations sent a letter to Commissioner Thierry Breton and Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius urging them to present the draft restriction proposal without further delay. Non-toxic solutions that are safe for people, wildlife, and the environment are not only a possibility but already a reality. All we need, is to ban lead from hunting, sports shooting and fishing now.

You can read our full letter here:

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

  1. The REACH Committee is run by the European Commission and brings together Member States to discuss the Regulation on the registration, evaluation, authorization, and restriction of chemicals. ↩︎