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Priority contribution. Role of international conventions in promoting avian conservation through reduced lead toxicosis: progression towards a non-toxic agenda

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 June 2005

VERNON G. THOMAS
Affiliation:
Department of Zoology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1. E-mail: vthomas@uoguelph.ca
RAIMON GUITART
Affiliation:
Department of Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Toxicology, Veterinary Faculty. Autonomous University of Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain. E-mail: raimon.guitart@uab.es
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Abstract

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The transition to the use of non-toxic shot and fishing weights has been slow at the international level despite the Bern Convention and the African Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) having called for a ban on lead shot use by the year 2000. Adopting lead substitutes is also consistent with the habitat goals of the Ramsar Convention and the Biodiversity Convention. In countries where non-toxic shot and sinkers are required by law, published studies show a marked reduction in lead toxicosis and large savings of birds. A renewed commitment from the AEWA, the Bern Convention, and especially the Ramsar Convention is needed to encourage their parties to regulate the use of non-toxic materials. Eleven different non-toxic substitutes for shot now exist, and some of these can also serve as substitutes for lead sinkers. While previous regulatory emphasis has been placed on wetland habitats, any new initiatives could also propose a phasing out of lead shot in upland habitats to reduce the prevalence of secondary lead poisoning of migratory raptors.

La transición hacia el empleo de perdigones y de pesos de pesca no tóxicos ha sido lenta a escala internacional, y eso a pesar de que la Convención de Berna y el Acuerdo sobre la Conservación de las Aves Acuáticas Migratorias de África y Eurasia (AEWA) promovían una prohibición del uso de plomo para el año 2000. La adopción de alternativas al plomo está, además, en concordancia con los objetivos para los hábitats de la Convención de Ramsar y de la Convención de la Biodiversidad. En los países en los que se requiere por ley el uso de alternativas no tóxicas en perdigones y en pesos de pesca, los estudios publicados muestran en aves una marcada reducción de las intoxicaciones por plomo y una disminución de la mortalidad. Un renovado compromiso del AEWA y las Convenciones de Berna y, especialmente, de Ramsar, es necesario para que animen a las partes firmantes a fomentar el uso de materiales no tóxicos. En la actualidad están disponibles once alternativas al plomo para la fabricación de perdigones, algunas de las cuales también son útiles para los pesos de pesca. Mientras que las iniciativas anteriores han puesto énfasis en la actuación sobre las zonas húmedas, las futuras deberían también incluir los ecosistemas terrestres, con el objetivo de reducir el número de intoxicaciones secundarias que se producen entre aves de presa migradoras.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© BirdLife International 2005
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