Workshop on Lead Shot in Jordan
AEWA and Birdlife International organised a workshop on lead shot with the participation of FACE and CIC on 13-14 May 2007 in Jordan. The workshop was attended by representatives from the conservation sector in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
The discussions focused on two main issues: the first interest was the review of the accession of the so-called “Mediterranean Third Countries” to major international environmental agreements, such as AEWA, CMS and CITES. The second main topic was the phasing out of lead shot for hunting in wetlands. During a theoretical session Niels Kanstrup, President of CIC Migratory Birds Commission, gave a presentation on the Danish experiences. He referred to the recommendation adopted by the 54th CIC General Assembly in Belgrade urging national authorities in countries where lead shot is still used for hunting in wetlands to secure a process of phasing out such use as soon as possible, and at the latest before the year 2010. The background is concern for the risk of lead poisoning of waterbirds, just as the phase out of lead shot is a question of the image of hunting.
Specially invited speaker of the event was the Canadian lead toxicosis expert, Dr. Vernon Thomas from the University of Guelph. After years of researching the ecological energetics of migratory waterfowl and resident arctic birds and mammals, Dr. Thomas’ research interests have shifted towards the use of science in producing revised policies for wildlife management. He is currently focussing on the problem of lead toxicity to wildlife, especially as it affects waterfowl.
The session was followed by a practical field demonstration where participants could learn more about the different parameters of the shot, such as physical, chemical, ballistic parameters. Finally attendants had the opportunity to try the different shot types in clay pigeon shooting.
An Issue of International Importance
The issue of lead poisoning has many international aspects. Firstly, many of the affected species are migratory waterbirds that cross several borders during migration. The impact of management – for example regarding lead shot – in one country might affect the flyway situation and so might be of importance to all range states. Secondly, the question of lead shot greatly affects the hunters’ image. The public opinion in one country will have an impact on other countries, so both the hunters’ and the national administration will benefit from international coordination and exchange of knowledge. Last but not least, making alternatives available is a focal point in phasing out lead shot. This is an international affair: research, development and market analysis of alternatives are greatly facilitated by international co-operation.
There are several reasons why addressing the issue of lead shot is so difficult. The problem of lead poisoning of wildlife is not very apparent. Many hunters will claim correctly “they never found a poisoned bird”. The number of deaths among waterbirds due to lead poisoning is still regarded by many hunters as very small-scale or negligible. At the same time, many hunters are very sceptical about using an alternative, not because hunters necessarily have any factual experience, but because “they always used lead”. In other words, hunters are conservative, and often this is combined with a widespread and well-organised propaganda against alternatives, which is often based on commercial interests.
To address the problem worldwide there is a clear need of a constructive dialogue on a national and international level between governments, nature conservationists and hunters. Such co-operation is a precondition to maintain the process of phasing out lead shot in wetlands.
Migratory Bird Commission
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