[WATCH] Hunters were in negotiation with government on legal changes for fixed season

Hunters lobby FKNK says environment ministry did not published legal notice to fix hunting season.

FKNK secretary-general Lino Farrugia
FKNK secretary-general Lino Farrugia

Hunters' lobby FKNK today declared they were in negotiations with the environment minister on legal changes to Malta's hunting laws, "up until a few days ago".

FKNK secretary-general Lino Farrugia and president Joe Perici Calascione told the press that the lobby was expected a legal notice to be published in the last days of the election campaign, that would have dealt with translation ambiguities on the Birds Directive as transposed into Maltese law; as well as the introduction of a fixed hunting season in autumn.

"We were informed by the environment ministry that the legal notice could not be published yet due to a problem with the fixed season. We have no idea whether it was going to be published or not."

Asked if the legal notice was definitively shelved or not, Perici Calascione said: "Your guess is as good as mine."

He refused to describe a memorandum of understanding with the Labour Party signed last week as an 'agreement', saying the memo comprised the conclusions of negotiations held over two years.

Apart from its negotiations with Labour, the FKNK held discussions with the Office of the Prime Minister and the environment ministry, "however, never with the Nationalist Party," a fiery Lino Farrugia noted.

He also noted that despite PN deputy leader Simon Busuttil's drive to meet with civil society over the last year, the PN refused t set up a meeting with what Farrugia described as the "largest NGO in Malta."

Both Farrugia and Perici Calascione explained that despite coming to similar agreements with former PN administrations, the PN never fulfilled its pledges that hunters would not lose any of their rights.

Quizzed why the hunters' lobby was confident that Labour's agreement would hold, Perici Calascione said:

"In 1996, we had an agreement with the Alfred Sant government which was fulfilled within one month of Labour being elected. Subsequent agreements with the PN were never respected. We trust Labour because they have already kept their promise."

An animated FKNK president vented his anger at a Nationalist Party advert in newspapers taking a dig at the agreement the hunters reached with Labour.

Perici Calsione said that the PN had adopted a completely different attitude when it was in opposition in 1998 and went on to explain that Lawrence Gonzi, who back then was secretary-general of the PN had signed an agreement, which the PN government never respected.

Asked what the Labour agreement will mean in tangible terms, Perici Calascione said that the €50 special license for spring hunting will be abolished as would the requirement for hunters to wear armbands, which Farrugia likened to the yellow badge imposed on Jews by Nazis, only to be quickly rebuked by Perici Calsione.

FKNK also pointed out that individual bag limits have to be changed since "current limits adopted by the Maltese government are ridiculously low." "

Moreover Perici Calscione added that FKN is demanding that hunting times and curfews are removed completely, although this was subject to discussion with a new Labour government.

Perici Calsione added that the agreement with Labour will also mean that  trapping of European finches (għasafar tal- għana) is to be allowed in autumn but definitely not in spring. A limited derogation must be applied for this to happen.

Asked how FKNK would react if enough signatures are collected to request an abrogative referendum on spring hunting, Perici Calsione said: "It would be morally and ethically incorrect, because the Maltese people already voted in a referendum on hunting when Malta held the EU membership referendum in 2003."

While acknowledging that hunters must work in a framework of EU regulations, directives and derogations Farrugia said that these must be applied correctly.

FKNO also hit out at BirdLife Malta, Nature Trust Malta and Gaia Foundation, who Perici Calascione said received thousands of euros from the government while FKNK never received anything for conservation, despite having 10,000 members.

"If BirdLife are given more power and more money, if foreigners continue interfering and if Maltese representatives in Brussels maintain a servile attitude, than trapping will be abolished altogether, the spring hunting derogation will not be applied correctly and consequently abolished, hunting will only be allowed in October, November and December while hunting will not be allowed on Sundays, public holidays and school holidays."

Perici Calsione added that hunters also fear that hunting would not be allowed after 10am and the distance from habited places would increase to 500 metres from 200 metres.

Earlier today, environmental NGOs BirdLife Malta, Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA), Friends of the Earth Malta, Gaia Foundation, Greenhouse Malta and Nature Trust today issued a joint statement highlighting their concerns over the recent agreement between the PL and FKNK on hunting and trapping on the Maltese Islands. Statement follows.

READ MORE BirdLife appalled at Labour agreement with hunters

"We are deeply concerned about both the underlying process that has led to an agreement between the PL and FKNK as well as its content.  Recent statements from both PL and FKNK indicate that the agreement is the result of two years of private negotiations between the political party and the hunting lobby," the organisations said in a statement.

cikku , l-ewwel ħaġa nistqarr li jien la jien kaċċatur u lanqas nassab . It-tieni , kaċċaturi hemm kemm Laburisti u kemm Nazzjonalisti . Mela dak li għidt int li il-PL hu xi partit tal-kaċċaturi huwa redikolu . It-tielet , jekk hawn anqas kaċċaturi milli hawn nies li huma kontra il-kaċċa , xorta qed tgħid il-ħmerijiet , għax jekk inti veru demokratiku ma tistax tinjora id-drittijiet leġittmi u legali li għanda il-minoranza . Dak li jgħodd għall kaċċaturi fil-pajjizi kollha ta' l-Ewropa , għandu jkun jogħodd ukoll għall kaċċaturi Maltin . Inkunu grati ħafna cikku jekk tgħidilna x-delizzju għandek , forsi ma tafx kif ukun hawn xi ħadd li jasal biex jissuġġerixxi jekk għandux isir xi referendum dwar id-delizzju tiegħek ukoll , speċjalment jekk jinstab li hu fil-minoranza . Xi tgħid kieku taqbel ,cikku ?
This country urgently needs to be put into the right perspective with regards to priorities. Wasting time, energy and money on re-opening this chapter is not looking good.
Dear GYK, I honestly find the attitude of the political parties absolute disgusting and instead of setting an example, they are the ones who degenerate to such low levels to win/maintain power. I can understand why the hunting lobby are looking to take advantage of the situation and the same can be said about the construction industry and the Armier squatters but for a political party to barter votes for concessions is absolutely demoralizing and a slap in the face for the law abiding public, who are craving for an inclusive & just governance. Education & dialogue is fine but without the right will and consequent law enforcement, changes are seriously handicapped.
Paul Sammut
Not Amused. Look around you but look left and right and 360 degrees and tell us honestly what other issues do not amuse you. What standing laws are being changed? With regards to Bird Life one may fairly ask how long they have been trying to discuss their position with the government and what did they get? I do not promote hunting, not at all and sincerely hope that one day the sport will decline naturally. However I believe this can only be achieved over time through education,convincing promotion and the provision of an alternative activity to bird shooting.
Joseph Muscat's Hunters' party is making a strategic mistake if they think there are more hunters than anti-hunters.
Two things come out from this: 1. You can trust the PL; 2. You cannot trust the PN.
In a democratic country, negotiations to change the standing laws on environmental issues, are done thru a public consultation and not via clandestine meetings and done deals. The timing of this announcement is also of crucial importance which in itself is indicative of what's on the agenda of both parties. Mr. Muscat claimed that the environment is not gold plated and yet it's worth has been set at the proverbial 30 pieces of gold