BirdLife Malta today staged a symbolic action in front of the Office of the Prime Minister in Valletta’s Castille Square. With a number of people holding photos of beautiful migratory birds standing in the square, music was played with bird songs as the chorus, only to be intermittently silenced by gunshot sounds. With each gunshot, the participants fell to the ground on the steps of Castille while changing the photo to show illegally shot and dead protected birds. Two large banners were then displayed, one calling for courage against those that break the law and the other clearly stating that the rampant illegal hunting of protected birds taking place in Malta is the Prime Minister’s fault and responsibility.
Symbolic action in Valletta points fingers at Prime Minister’s lack of action on hunting illegalities and bird protection
During past years, bird protection laws started being systematically weakened in order to make sure that hunters get away with murder. Laws such as that regulating taxidermy have been amended to make them unenforceable, while others such as the Wild Rabbit hunting law were amended to set up clear loopholes for hunters to be able to hunt birds during closed seasons.
During bird migration, the rampant illegalities increase due to the influx of protected birds and this was even more aggravated when the Prime Minister had given in to the hunting lobby’s demand to remove the curfew on hunting birds that allowed protected birds to roost safely. Due to this change, it has become common practice for hunters to target these protected birds as the sun sets down, killing large numbers of protected birds while they are finding places to roost.
Apart from making it easier for hunters to target protected birds, the Government remains dormant on the main cause of the problem, which is taxidermy, and the inherited situation of large collections of birds owned by hunters which were granted amnesties in the past. The vetting system of these collections had been stopped over 10 years ago while hunters continue to transfer birds between them, even if it is illegal to do so. This illegality was also given an amnesty by Minister Clint Camilleri with the blessing of Prime Minister Robert Abela when he issued a legal notice, without consulting the ORNIS Committee, a few days before the last general election.
The Government led by Prime Minister Robert Abela, aided by Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri, is so bent backwards to appease the hunting lobby that they have also managed to reduce the resources of the Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) of the Malta Police Force while Gozo remains an area where the EPU is not allowed to operate. This comes at a time when the European Commission has not only opened infringement proceedings in regard to all of Malta’s hunting and trapping derogations, but has also initiated a similar legal action on the lack of enforcement to protect birds as stipulated by the European Birds Directive.
The attitude adopted by PM Robert Abela to continue appeasing the hunting lobby at all costs has fuelled the feeling within hunters that they are untouchable and can do what they want, even breaking the law, knowing they are unlikely to pay the price. This is the Prime Minister’s fault and it is high time he takes full responsibility of the matter!
Read the Maltese version of the press release here.
Watch the video of this morning’s symbolic action in front of the Office of the PM below!