Majjistral hunting times are illegal, managers tell ministry and ERA

Government has introduced new hunting rules in breach of its own environment rules on public consultation

Visitors to the Majjistral Park enjoying a ramble across the vast garigue
Visitors to the Majjistral Park enjoying a ramble across the vast garigue

The managers of the Majjistral heritage park is challenging new rules issued by the environment ministry to extend hunting and trapping hours to 12:30pm and 2:30pm, respectively.

The federation, made up of three NGOs – Din l-Art Helwa, Gaia Foundation and Nature Trust –said the new legal notice was issued without granting a 30-day consultation period as mandated by the Environment Planning Act and the Aarhus Convention.

The Federation has now requested the minister to immediately revoke the regulations to once again limit any form of hunting to 10am, saying the rules are in breach of the Parent Act enabling such regulations to be passed.

“The new regulations have not taken into consideration the earlier compromises made with the Ministry of Environment both in 2009 and in 2013 which regulated the hours and established them finally at 10am,” president Rodolfo Ragonesi said.

In a letter to the minister and the CEO of the Environment and Resources Authority, the federation said the decision to “favour a handful of hunters over the public’s freedom of enjoyment of one of the few remaining green spaces in Malta was detrimental to society”, who now can no longer use the park in the better hours of the day without seeing birds killed and trapped for sport.

The Federation said it had spent many years working to introduce the park and its natural and historical features to the public at large, to visitors to the islands and to the young. “The young are always in need of exposure to their natural environment, are very impressionable at that stage in their lives, and absorb so much that is new to them.  It is clear that such impressionable young persons cannot be expected to share the same space at the same time with hunters, and it is indeed very traumatic for a child or a class of children to suddenly see a bird being shot out of the sky.”

The federation said extending hunting hours beyond 10am had shattered agreements with the hunting community, and made it impossible to enjoy the park in the most popular months during spring and autumn and during school periods available for such excursions.

“It has effectively resulted in a substantial loss of public freedom to enjoy the park without pressure of hunters and means that it is now impossible for the park to be developed to its full sustainable potential, even economically, not just as a park, because this simply cannot be done if hunters roam the area after 10am,” Ragonesi said

“Disregarding the advice of the Government’s own advisory board has effectively turned the park into a glorified hunting reserve masquerading as a nature park.”

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