At the FACE-meeting in Noordwijk aan Zee, NL
As we know, the EU has taken a lot of the legislative power from the national levels. Our parliament can still rule over for example the VAT, guns - BUT. Those areas too, have a European directive, which dictates the results - national government gets to decide on the means to be used, but the purpose and the desired level of control is decided by the EU.
Because of the Nature Directive or the Bird Directive, the EU is an important player also when it comes to the matters in and around hunting. It´s not entirely up to us decide as we please. And the lobbyists are a strong player in the EU. So the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation wanted to hold a conference about some of the hot topics; such as lead ammunition, wolves and how hunting in general is represented at the European level. After all, the decisions are all political.
Noordwijk aan Zee is a lovely town by the North Sea, only like an hours´ trip by train and bus from the Schiphol airport, and the public transportation is great, cheap and reliable! This is definitely a venue I could imagine myself going back to!
The conference had two speakers for each theme, representing opposite perspectives. The CEO of Fiocchi, the cartridge manufacturer talked about the possible/eventual ban on lead. His remarks were quite pessimistic, anticipating price raises. Some of the materials that are now allowed to be used instead of lead - zinc for example, may be banned in the near future, too. There are studies to show the toxicity of lead, but none to show long lasting impacts of the replacement materials. The opposite view was 100 % positive that the lead ban will come in the near future. Will it result in older guns disappearing all together, the cost of the field sports getting too high for some hunters? Who knows. Personally I don´t think the ban of lead in hunting makes a huge difference - but it would be a big chance, if lead could no longer be used on shooting ranges.
Wolves were another issue on the table. The good news is, that the grey wolf is no longer considered to be threatened with extinction, but recovering - and the opinion from the researchers´ and conservationists´point of view was to just to learn to live with the wolves again. The hunters did point out, how it used to be the other way around - and I agree!
A lot of discussion (also ASW was discussed) and a fact-filled-day was summarized in the final session, where we talked about the image of hunting, and whose job it is to communicate positive things about it. We had a German MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz, who urged us all to be active, to make sure hunting is perceived for what it really is: nature conservation. It´s legal, ethical and presents a group of people with a lot of knowledge and love for the nature!
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