BirdLife will not engage with ‘minister for hunting’ Clint Camilleri

BirdLife says removal of hunting policy from environment minister is illegal

Clint Camilleri taking his oath of office
Clint Camilleri taking his oath of office

BirdLife Malta has formally written to Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia to inform him that as stipulated by Malta’s environment laws, it will only be recognising and communicating with him in regard to any issue related to the conservation of wild birds’ regulations, including hunting and trapping.

The move comes in response to a decision made by Prime Minister Robert Abela to place the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) under the remit of Minister for Gozo Clint Camilleri, who is himself a hunter.

BirdLife Malta not only described this decision as “diabolical” but also shown how it is illegal within the present legislation, leading them to file a judicial protest against the government.

“To date the government has yet to justify this decision not only on moral grounds but now also on legal grounds,” BirdLife CEO Mark Sultana said.

“The Environment Protection Act and the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations legally recognise the Minister for the Environment as the only minister responsible for environment protection and for any authority relating to it. Moreover, both Malta’s national environment law and the subsidiary legislation which regulates bird protection – and as such, WBRU itself – also state, black on white, that the same unit should be established within the ministry responsible for the environment.

“As such, any decisions or actions to be taken by WBRU and eventually the Ornis Committee – when these are set up – including appointments and legislations not under the Minister for the Environment, should be considered illegitimate.”

The Wild Birds Regulation Unit centralises the regulatory functions for the implementation of the Conservation​ of Wild Birds Regulations and to oversee and drive the implementation of government policy on sustainable hunting governance and wild birds conservation.

Sultana said that with the hunting and trapping seasons just coming to a close in January and now an upcoming spring hunting season for this year, the ongoing situation has brought uncertainty on the way future seasons should be regulated.

“We hope to see this resolved in the most logical way, that of having WBRU and the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations remain under the Minister for the Environment. We are optimistic and in the meantime we hope that Minister for the Environment Aaron Farrugia is not used as a rubber stamp for Clint Camilleri’s decisions.”