Government has up to now denied the scientific facts and chose to also ignore the appeals to stop spring hunting.
Requests from BirdLife Malta, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the European Commission have fallen on deaf ears.It is only now – after last Saturday’s press conference by the Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK) – that it seems Government will be taking action and a moratorium on spring hunting will be applied.
This was reported by the Labour Party’s own Sunday newspaper the day after FKNK’s press conference (Kullħadd, Sunday 22nd May 2016) in a story on the front page which announced that the Cabinet of Ministers will be discussing a moratorium on hunting in spring, implying that Government will be acceding to FKNK’s request.
In a letter sent this morning to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, BirdLife Malta insisted that is unacceptable that Government has ignored requests by BirdLife Malta, IUCN, and EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella’s direct advice to the Maltese Prime Minister to consider a moratorium. And it will be only now that the hunting lobby has spoken that this will be applied. Rather than waiting for FKNK to speak out, Government should have taken action a long time ago, based on scientific facts which are uncontested, and which show that the European Turtle Dove (Gamiema) status has been classified as vulnerable because of a significant decline in its population in recent years.
BirdLife Malta has always been consistent in its arguments about spring hunting because these same arguments were always based on IUCN’s research and scientific data. The same facts go to prove that spring hunting should stop, as BirdLife has been insisting.
The latest developments also prove that Government has, on a regular basis, been fed incorrect advice from the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) and the hunting lobby. This incorrect advice has brought Malta once again on the brink of Infringement proceedings of the EU Birds Directive.
It is clear that all this is nothing but a mise en scène and that the only reason for the moratorium is for Government to try to avoid Infringement proceedings against Malta which could result in a new court case against it in the European Court.
Government states that it has economic, health, educational and environmental prosperity at heart – but as regards bird protection, it still is denying uncontested facts and all advice it has been given by those who base their arguments on scientific research. This, however, is not a game and should not be turned, once again, into a political issue.
We therefore appeal to Government to realize that hunting in spring is unsustainable and spring hunting should stop as it goes against all the cardinal principles of nature conservation. Mainly because in spring, the healthiest birds would be migrating north towards their breeding grounds. This is now proven, black on white, by the same scientific facts on which BirdLife Malta, IUCN and the European Commission are basing their arguments.
If Government wants to continue ignoring these facts on which it should have taken its decision a long time ago, rather than waiting for FKNK, it could be that the people, once more, are summoned to take the decision themselves.
Read the Maltese version here.