That, in the opinion of this House, the government should, in compliance with the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, amend its regulations to replace the use of lead fishing weights and baits by any other non toxic matter that would end the intoxication of migratory birds, including the loon, caused by the swallowing of lead.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to begin by recalling the essential object of Motion No. 414, which I am introducing today.
As you can see, it is a matter of protecting migratory birds from a highly toxic substance, namely lead, which is found in sinkers and lures used in sport fishing. If any other non-toxic substance is used, it will be possible to contemplate the eradication of this phenomenon of migratory birds being poisoned by these sinkers and lures, and in particular to save from certain death thousands of loons. These are not only a source of pride, but also of great value to nature and to our economy.
There is nothing new about this concern to protect our migratory birds from lead. According to the January 2002 issue of Bulletin Science et Environnement :
Mercury and lead are two metals of particular concern as far as wildlife are concerned. They are both on the list of toxic substances because of their potentially toxic effects, particularly because lead causes organ damage and leads to death. Although lead and mercury are present in both land and water habitat, the way they are ingested puts water fowl, and piscivorous, that is fish-eating, birds and mammals, as well as their predators, at considerable risk of poisoning.
The legislation and regulations concerning migratory birds were drafted as a result of the signature of international conventions. This is how the August 16, 1916 Migratory Bird Convention came into being between the United Kingdom and United States in order to protect the migratory birds of Canada and the U.S. It must be kept in mind that Canada, being a British colony at the time, was therefore bound by this convention.
I would like to read the beginning of this convention.
Whereas many of these species are of greatvalue as a source of food or in destroying insectswhich are injurious to forests and forage plants onthe public domain, as well as to agricultural crops,in both Canada and the United States, but arenevertheless in danger of extermination throughlack of adequate protection during the nesting His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom ofGreat Britain and Ireland and of the Britishdominions beyond the seas, Emperor of India, andthe United States of America, being desirous ofsaving from indiscriminate slaughter and ofinsuring the preservation of such migratory birdsas are either useful to man or are harmless, haveresolved to adopt some uniform system ofprotection which shall effectively accomplish suchobjects—
Then there was the Migratory Birds Act, 1994, assented to on June 23, 1994, which reads as follows at section 4:
The purpose of this Act is to implement theConvention by protecting migratory birds andnests.
Specifically, subsection 12(1) of the 1994 legislation sets out that:
The Governor in Council may make anyregulations that the Governor in Council considersnecessary to carry out the purposes and provisionsof this Act and the Convention, includingregulations
(h) for prohibiting the killing, capturing,injuring, taking or disturbing of migratory birdsor the damaging, destroying, removing ordisturbing of nests;
Therefore, the government implemented the Migratory Birds Regulations. These are the regulations that have been used to fight the use of lead shot in the hunting of migratory birds.
In fact, the government banned the use of cartridges with lead shot, or pellets that are poisonous, for bird hunting, by defining which type of non-poisonous pellets could be used in sections 2 and 15(1) of the Migratory Birds Regulations. The government prohibited hunting migratory birds, in particular, with pellets that are poisonous—lead being poisonous—and permitted hunting with materials that are not poisonous.
This first ban on lead when hunting migratory birds had a very positive effect, as pointed out in the article published in the Bulletin Science et Environnement , to which I referred earlier:
While levels of mercury in the environment are increasing, the level of lead is decreasing, thanks to the gradual elimination of lead in many countries and to a national ban on lead shot used to hunt most migratory birds considered to be game fowl. The ban on lead shot, which came into effect in 1999, resulted in a reduction of about 40% of the lead spread annually in the Canadian environment by hunters.
However, a very important and serious problem remains concerning lead and migratory birds, in that lead used for fishing is the main cause of death among migratory birds, particularly the loon during nesting season.
Let us now take a look at what environmental experts are saying about lead and migratory birds swallowing the small lead weights and baits used for sport fishing.
One of the most serious problem relating to lead remains the swallowing of small lead sinkers and lures by divers—
Divers include loons and similar types of birds.
—in lakes where sport fishing is a major activity. Each year, anglers lose about 500 tons of lead sinkers and lures in Canadian waters. Even the smallest of these devices is big enough to kill any diver that swallows it. Lead poisoning accounts for 5% to 50% of registered deaths among adult divers in Canada, and it is the main cause of the deaths registered among adult loons in North America, during nesting season.
Migratory birds are a great source of wealth, as shown by the following excerpt of the summary of the May 17, 2000 regulatory impact study under the Migratory Birds Convention Act,1994:
The sustainability of migratory bird resources is critical to the cultural and economic well-being of Canadians. There is a major economic benefit for Canadians and for the government in protecting and managing migratory birds and in preserving large conservation areas to ensure their reproduction and survival. Data collected by Statistics Canada in a 1991 survey shows that Canadians spent $1.2 billion to hunt and to watch migratory waterfowl.
In conclusion, I seek the House's support for my Motion M-414 concerning the protection of migratory birds, which would amend the regulations to the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, to replace the use of lead sinkers and lures by any other non toxic matter that would end the poisoning of migratory birds, including the loon, caused by the swallowing of lead.
I remind the House that, on March 25, the well known Ducks Unlimited informed me of their full support for Motion M-414 in the following terms:
Ducks Unlimited hereby supports the motion you put forward in the House of Commons to have the government amend its regulation to replace the use of lead sinkers and lures by any other non toxic matter that would end the poisoning of migratory birds, including the loon.
I have always been interested in hunting and fishing. Having become aware of the considerable harm caused migratory birds, particularly the loon, by the use of lead sinkers and lures, I think it highly desirable that we move as quickly as possible and without further delay to protect migratory birds by the use of non toxic matter for fishing.
Since lead is now banned for hunting migratory birds, the same decision must be taken for lead used in sport fishing, with the same goal of better protecting migratory birds, including the loon.
The motion I am putting forward does not require any complicated action on the part of the government or of fishers, just a simple amendment to the Migratory Birds Regulations in order to replace the lead sinkers and lures used in sport fishing with similar non toxic products serving the same purpose. It is as simple as that.