BirdLife demands closure of hunting season following 'massacre' at sea

BirdLife said it was also calling on the government to close the hunting season at sea in view of the fact that 2018 was a record year for the illegal killing of protected birds

BirdLife has called on authorities to close the sea hunting season
BirdLife has called on authorities to close the sea hunting season

BirdLife Malta has demanded that the government  recommend the closure of the hunting season at sea, however the request was voted down.

The NGO said in a statement that while yesterday’s Ornis Committee meeting was in session, “hunters at sea were carrying out a massacre of protected Shelducks”.

The massacre, the NGO said, took place off the northeast coast of Malta, leaving 10 out of a flock of 23 ducks killed.

BirdLife said that although the culprits escaped, the owner of the boat in question was identified and investigations were ongoing. Photos and footage of the illegal act were collected, the NGO said.

Based on the incident, BirdLife said it requested a closure of the hunting season “there and then” but the motion was voted down. It accused the hunting lobby of “downplaying the illegality” and insisting that stopping the season would amount to collective punishment.

“It is clear from the number of injured seabirds observed during the past two months – including yesterday’s incident – that illegal hunting at sea is not being controlled by the police,” BirdLife said 

It said Malta’s bird protection laws were “in spirit aimed at protecting birds and therefore, should the law or the state not have enough resources to control illegalities, then the minister, as has happened in the past, not only has the right, but also the obligation, to stop the hunting season”.

BirdLife said it was also calling on the government to close the hunting season at sea in view of the fact that 2018 was a record year in the last six in terms of illegal killing of protected birds.

"BirdLife Malta reminds the Government that despite the outcome of the vote taken yesterday, its rights and obligations still remain and that its statements of zero tolerance are yet to be seen in action."

More in Nature