Labour moving closer to hunting lobby, BirdLife claims

BirdLife Malta has accused Joseph Muscat of using the same language as hunter's lobby: 'Muscat will hand countryside to hunters on a gold plate.'

BirdLife's own election campaign is calling on voters to seriously consider political parties' pledges to hunters and trappers.
BirdLife's own election campaign is calling on voters to seriously consider political parties' pledges to hunters and trappers.

Birdlife Malta has expressed concern that the Labour Party is mirroring the demands of the hunters and trappers association FKNK.

“Dr Muscat has acknowledged that Malta has obligations under EU law to protect and conserve birds, other wildlife and their habitats, yet he has failed to answer questions about how a Labour government will deal with the major threat to wild birds in Malta, namely the uncontrolled illegal hunting and trapping," the organisation said in a statement.

According to Birdlife, Muscat appears to be adopting the vocabulary of the hunting lobby in stating that he wants Maltese hunters and trappers to be treated like those in other EU states, and that “where derogations are applicable, we will apply them.”

Steve Micklewright, BirdLife Malta’s executive director said: “These statements obscure the truth that hunters and trappers in Malta enjoy privileges not given to any of their European counterparts and these privileges are prohibited under EU wildlife protection regulations.”

“For example, hunters in the Maltese Islands can legally shoot 41 bird species during the five-month autumn hunting season, compared with just 18 wild bird species that can be hunted recreationally during the autumn season in the UK," Micklewwright said. 

Since joining the EU, Malta has consistently opened a spring hunting season for European Turtle Dove and Common Quail, in exception to Birds Directive guidance and the European management plans for both these species, which are declining in Europe and are of “unfavourable conservation status.”

Mr Micklewright said: “No other European country has been allowed to open regular spring seasons for the recreational hunting of any bird species, let alone two that are of conservation concern. And while Maltese hunters look enviously at the number of species that can be hunted in France, French hunters are not allowed to shoot Turtle Dove and Quail in spring either.”

Furthermore, in response to questions asked by BirdLife’s conservation officer Chris Debono at Friday’s briefing on the party’s electoral manifesto, Muscat said that he did not agree with “gold plating” wildlife protection legislation in Malta “beyond what is required by the EU”.

Since 2008, legislation governing autumn hunting has banned shooting after 3pm during the peak of raptor  migration in the second half of September. The ban was adopted to protect birds of prey from being illegally targeted and has resulted in a reduction in the number of birds illegally targeted during peak migration.

Micklewright added: “The EU encourages countries to go beyond its Directives to take account of the local situation. With 80 per cent of the countryside available to hunters, including several public Nature Parks frequented by walkers, tourists and school groups, it seems unthinkable that the removal of wildlife protection legislation, such as the 3pm curfew on hunting for two weeks in autumn, might be on Labour’s agenda.”

Muscat has stated that there would be “no renegotiation of EU Accession Treaty agreements,” which does suggest that he would stop short of derogating for a finch trapping season, something that trappers have been demanding since 2009, when the five-year phasing-out period agreed as part of Malta’s EU Accession Treaty came to an end.

"With the future of Malta’s wildlife and the Maltese people’s right to enjoy the countryside in safety at stake, it is essential that voters ask questions of their candidates to make sure they know what they might be voting for,” Micklewright said.

 

avatar
Dear Mr. Mark Mifsud Bonnici. Protecting our already impoverished environment should hardly be dictated by what happens in France. I back any NGO which speaks out for the conservation of what's left of our bio diversity and if your position is to continue raping our natural resources simply because of a dubious derogation in a region of France then I have every right to protest against this mentality without being labelled arrogant by your good self. I am sure that you agree that most of these derogations are absolutely farcical but an injustice does not justify doing the same here in Malta. You are so eloquent about the rights of the hunting lobby and yet you overlook our nations obligation to conserve our own natural heritage with all our means?
avatar
@joelife. Despite their assurances, none of the major parties gives a hoot about protecting the environment but when Mr. Muscat tries to win political mileage by sacrificing the conservation of what natural resources, we have left, for the selfish excesses of a few, to gain a few more votes than it shows off the thru colors of a PL administration. My question to you is, would YOU trust our environment in the hands of this PL ?
avatar
Mr Micklewright, "According to Birdlife, Muscat appears to be adopting the vocabulary of the hunting lobby in stating that he wants Maltese hunters and trappers to be treated like those in other EU states, and that “where derogations are applicable, we will apply them.”” So what exactly does Birdlife want? Keep up the arrogance it only serves to distance the few that support you even further. St. Hubert Hunters.
avatar
I follow the tit-for-tat saga between the hunting lobby and birdlife. I am no pro hunting but pro labour, I am armed with a Nikon SLR to 'freeze' birds free in their natural environment. Mr Micklewright is threading politically when he takes labour to task with the election round the corner-he cannot project birdlife as unbiased when he critisizes the PL and scaremonger the voters with '..countryside in safety at stake' What is essential is Mr Micklewright to meet with the hunting lobby and discuss the glaring dividing differences ( may fizzle out to be minimal)within the EU derogations and be ready to bury the hatchet
avatar
Mr Micklewright's interpretation of Dr Muscar's statment about hunting shows that he misread or is consciously misinterpreting this statement. How can one interpret the fact that Dr Muscat wants Maltese hunters and trappers to be treated like those in other EU states, and that “where derogations are applicable, as an attempt of violating EU wildlife protection regulations. And by the way, I do not like hunting.