BirdLife ‘appalled’ at agreement between PL and FKNK

BirdLife Malta today issued a point-by-point analysis of the agreement between PL and FKNK on hunting and trapping after being sent the full text of the agreement.

Trapping of turtle doves and quail in spring has also not been allowed since 2003. Photo: Neil Carden/CABS
Trapping of turtle doves and quail in spring has also not been allowed since 2003. Photo: Neil Carden/CABS

BirdLife said the "carefully worded agreement" - a memorandum of understanding signed in the last week of the 2013 campaign - states that any changes will be made 'in conformity with the European framework'. However, BirdLife claimed the six-point agreement contains commitments that appear to go against this.

FKNK-PL agreement [Opens PDF] and BirdLife analysis [Opens PDF].

BirdLife described the agreement as "a disaster for Malta's wild birds and their habitats", saying this would jeopardise Malta's position under EU laws and the Berne Convention.

Steve Micklewright, BirdLife Executive Director said, "While we are grateful to Joseph Muscat for ensuring we received a full copy of the text of the agreement he has signed with the FKNK, we are appalled by what it might mean if it is fully implemented."

The organisation said there was no system for verifying hunters' self-declared catches, claiming that the continued hunting of turtle dove and quail, which are also hunted in the autumn, would result in a continued and unacceptable impact on their numbers and futher damage to their conservation status.

"Autumn hunting is already a satisfactory solution to spring hunting, but the European Court of Justice based its decision on the inaccurate Carnet De Chasse data declared by hunters and misrepresented as being reliable by the Maltese government."

Trapping of turtle doves and quail in spring has also not been allowed since 2003 and the EU have already issued warnings to Malta about trapping of other bird species such as song thrush and golden plover, because of the abuse of the system by trappers and the widespread trapping of finches.

In July 2011, the European Commission sent Malta a letter of formal notice, warning it on the poor conservation status of Turtle Dove and Quail - "this is why subsequent trapping seasons have not included these species," BirdLife said. "Since both 'trapping' and 'hunting birds' in spring are practices both banned by the Birds Directive - PL seems to be here seeking a double derogation."

BirdLife said that finch trapping had been phased out over a five-year period for Malta's accession to the EU.

"In one breath PL say they will not re-open anything that was agreed upon Malta's accession to the EU, then in the next it says completely the opposite... If a PL government derogates from the Birds Directive to open a finch-trapping season it will be neigh impossible to control the numbers and species taken. This reckless move should be of grave concern, as it will inevitably land Malta right back in the European Court of Justice."

BirdLife also questioned whether a new Labour government would create an adequately resourced wildlife crime unit to enforce wildlife protection law, and to tackle illegal killing and trapping of protected species.

"At no point in the past two years, during which the Labour Party have been holding 'technical meetings' with representatives of the hunting lobby, has any PL official sought to meet and consult with BirdLife about wildlife conservation issues," BirdLife said.

Executive director Steve Micklewright said: "While committing to increasing enforcement is welcome, the detail of the agreement does not explicitly state how this will happen.  We would at the very least have expected PL to force a commitment from FKNK to expel members who are convicted of illegal bird hunting and for their hunting licences to be revoked forever, but there is no such commitment. We will of course push for this if PL are elected to government."

In recent days BirdLife Malta lobbied heavily for the removal of any commitment to end the two-week September 3pm curfew on bird hunting, but such a commitment is not explicitly stated in the PL/FKNK agreement.

"While we are relieved that the removal of the 3pm curfew is not explicitly stated, the agreement does include a consultative review of regulations such as this. We hope that the Labour Party will include BirdLife Malta in such consultations and consider the impact that removing essential wildlife protection measures would have on Malta's and Europe's protected birds."

Dear Mr Micklewright. You make it sound that under Gonzipn not a single bird has been shot or captured. I am a bird lover myself and if you care to come to my residence I will prove that. Actually I dont like hunting . But on the other side being Maltese and proud to be so, I just cannot swallow the bitter pill that Maltese hunters and trappers should be inferior to our European counterparts.
Birdlife is simply a PN tool which has been used over and over in the past on the eve of elections. Sorry to say this because I am not a hunter or a trapper but an environmentalist but I do not like these political games on the eve of elections to try to influence the electorate.
If we are to think that the birds are threatened by hunters I think this is bullocks. With all due respect to Birdlife. I myself do not like hunting but I do beleive that if there are regulations and are observed, there will be a balance. The hunters must adapt to regulations. Should these regulations are breeched, the hunter/s should be heavily peanilised. Birdlife's main concern are hunters, which should not be. There should be a better forum between fknk and birdlife. Both parties should find a balance and harmonise their love of their life. In a close society like ours tollerance is not enough. We must learn how to live-in (convivere in Italian). There are more threats for birds other than hunters. For instance what about the over development on this island? What about more natural reserves? Birdlife Malta should avoid this feud with the hunters. I am a bird lover. I love birds that fly not shot or trapped. BUT hunting is an old tradition and this I must accept because I share my space in these small islands with other inhabitants.
Haha Birdlife expect PL to include them in any consultations!!! Isn't Gonzipn enough for you? You have been having it so good and now expect equal treatment? In any case PL just promised us what is allowed by EU laws.
Why don't BirLife get a LIFE. PL is doing nothing outside the parameters of EU laws. BirdLife might have blackmailed gonzipn for so many years but a new Labour government will not have any trap from this bunch of MaryPoppinses. Everyone has his/her rights and must be respected that includes hunters and trappers no matter what we might think of their hobby. Who am I to forbid others to practice their hobbies as long as they are within the law. Like I already said BirdLife should get a LIFE.