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BirdLife Malta renew call for setting up of wildlife crime unit in pre-election document

NGO publishes 10 proposals to safeguard the environment, which include the stopping of construction projects in ODZ sites, setting up a wildlife crime unit in the police force, incentivising “green roofs,” introducing compulsory waste separation at home and reducing pesticide use.

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
16 May 2017, 4:59pm
Proposals include stopping construction in areas outside development zones
Proposals include stopping construction in areas outside development zones
The absence of electoral about the environment by the leaders of Malta's two biggest political parties has drawn the ire of NGO BirdLife Malta, who published a comprehensive 13-page list of proposals aimed at protecting the environment.

The proposals, which include the stopping of construction projects in ODZ sites, the setting up of a wildlife crime unit in the police force, incentivising “green roofs,” introducing compulsory waste separation at home and a reduction in pesticide use.

In a statement issued this afternoon, BirdLife said that instead of focusing on protecting the environment, Joseph Muscat and Simon Busuttil are trying to garner votes from trappers and hunters.

“It seems that in 2017 both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party, who are both hoping to govern our country, are more concerned about the pastime of killing and trapping birds than about telling us how they plan to safeguard our natural environment.”

This week, the organisation presented a list of 10 electoral proposals to all political parties.

BirdLife Malta’s stand on environmental matters is based on scientific facts and on present legislation with particular regard to the EU Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive,” BirdLife Malta said in a statement. Its CEO Mark Sultana stated: “Hunting and trapping in Malta is also regulated by the Birds Directive which is outside the remit and powers of local politicians. While this has to be observed, only scientific facts can justify derogations, which is why it is a blessing that we are inside the European Union! Rather than talking about a pastime of killing and trapping birds, politicians should be mature enough to talk about what can be done to benefit our country's natural environment like reducing waste, land use and ODZ, and pollution; whilst improving habitats and natural reserves, and access to nature in schools.”

With respect to the mooted reduction of fines and penalties for hunting and trapping infractions, BirdLife Malta insists that this benefits only those who break the law. “Only those who are willing to risk breaking the law would be happy with such a promise. Ironically this electoral promise comes in a year when there was the highest ever number of protected birds shot in the last four years.”

The fines were but a secondary issue, said BirdLife Malta. “The real issue that BirdLife Malta has been continually highlighting is the serious lack of enforcement. Without the presence of environmental NGOs such as BirdLife Malta in the countryside, very few cases are brought to justice. In view of this, it is high time Malta has a government who is willing to tackle this seriously by setting up a proper Wildlife Crime Unit within the police force.

“BirdLife Malta will keep on working closely with any government that is elected for the benefit of our country's natural environment. We would never shy away from voicing criticism when it is necessary while continuing to work consistently for the benefit of the common good of Malta and Gozo.”

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...
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