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Lead shot banned in wetlands – Tukes narrows down “wetland” definition

Publication date 10.2.2023 9.32 | Published in English on 14.2.2023 at 16.41
Press release

Lead shot may not be used for hunting in wetlands or wetland buffer zones after 15 February 2023. The ban is based on the restriction on lead shot approved by the European Commission in January 2021, and it will apply across the EU. The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) has received many enquiries regarding the lead shot ban, and further specification of the definition of “wetland” has been requested in particular.

The purpose of the lead shot ban is to reduce the risk to human health and the environment caused by lead shot fired in wetlands. Lead is a heavy metal that is toxic to people and the environment. 

“Ingesting a single pellet of lead shot may kill a small waterbird.  It is estimated that approximately 4,000 tonnes of additional lead is released in the EU’s wetlands every year, killing about one million birds,” says head of unit Pauli Kärkkäinen from Tukes.

The ban is also the result of viable lead-free shot being available. Finland has banned the use of lead shot for waterbird hunting since 1996. 

In addition to hunting, the restriction of lead shot also applies to shooting ranges inside restricted areas, for example.

Tukes published a press release on 18 August 2022 titled Lead shot banned in wetlands. Further specification of the press release’s definition of wetland – “all waters, shore reeds, marshes and peatlands where waterbirds may stay, migrate or nest” – has been requested. Hunters, authorities, and others have made this request.

“In light of the many enquiries received by Tukes, we consider it necessary to specify the areas included in the ban, considering the objective of the restriction and our special national characteristics. Tukes’ interpretation guideline is not legally binding but is intended to aid the interpretation of supervisory authorities and those who are subject to the restriction,” says head of unit Jouni Räisänen.  

Wetlands that may be waterbird habitats

  • Seas (depth six metres or less), lakes, rivers, ponds, channels, artificial lakes, reservoirs, and other sizable waters.
    Ditches, trenches, and streams indicated by lines on terrain maps are excluded.
  • Meadows bordered by the above waters.
  • Waterlogged stones and rock fields.    
  • Relictions, flood areas, shallows, and open reliction areas.
  • Treeless marshes that are difficult to traverse.
  • All areas within 100 metres of the above areas. 

The list will be supplemented by Tukes if necessary.

To identify wetlands and their 100-metre buffer zone, you can use the maps and symbols of the National Land Survey of Finland’s MapSite service. The map symbol legend is a separate file. A map service for wetlands and their buffer zones is planned for release later this year.

Hunters and other shooters must observe care and caution when shooting in wetlands suitable for waterbird habitation, including their buffer zones. 

Tukes recommends that shooters refrain from using lead shot if there is any doubt whether they will be shooting in a wetland.  

–   The ban on lead shot in wetlands is likely just an intermediate step preceding an extended restriction on the use of lead. According to Kärkkäinen, the restriction being prepared would prohibit lead shot and fishing supplies including lead from being placed on the market and considerably restrict the use of lead bullets.

More information: 

Pauli Kärkkäinen (advice), head of unit, tel. +358 29 505 2074 
Chemical information service for companies 

Jouni Räisänen (monitoring), head of unit, tel. +358 29 505 2098 
Email format: [email protected]

Further information online:

Tukes press release on 18 August 2022 titled Lead shot banned in wetlands
Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/57 (as regards lead in gunshot in or around wetlands) 
ECHA: Lead in shot, bullets and fishing weights
ECHA: Restriction process





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