NGOs lambast new Majjistral Park hunting and trapping times

New Legal Notice lengthening hunting and trapping times at the park denounced as a “backward move against environmental protection and public interest”

The Majjistral Park Federation was severely critical of new legislation which lengthened hunting and trapping times at the park
The Majjistral Park Federation was severely critical of new legislation which lengthened hunting and trapping times at the park

The Majjistral Park Federation have said they are disheartened by the Environment Minister’s decision to lengthen hunting and trapping times at the park, in what the Federation is describing as a “backward move” which went against the interest of the environment and of the public.

Legal Notice 300 of 2017, published yesterday, lengthens hunting times at the park from 10am to 12:30pm and trapping times from 10am to 2:30pm.

The Federation, which is made up of NGOs Din l-Art Ħelwa, the Gaia Foundation and Nature Trust Malta with the support of BirdLife Malta, maintained the amendments were the results of back-room negotiations between the hunting federation FKNK, the Environment Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary.

It said that the amendments, which came into effect on 27 October, completely ignored the fact that the government’s park supervisory board had unanimously advised against the lengthening of hunting and trapping hours.

The park was located on mostly public land which was not intended for the exclusive use of hunters and trappers, the Federation added.

The “unilateral” decision between the government and the hunting lobby was against the sustainable use spirit of a nature park, which was also a Natura 2000 site. Recreational and education activities would not be able to take place during hunting hours, and access to tourists would be reduced during the part of the year when hunting takes place, the Federation claimed.

The decision also overrode educational and visitor activities which had been scheduled by the park. Around 400 students were booked to visit the park from now to the end of the year, and ensuring their safety was essential.

Moreover, legal notice amendments regarding public land use had to undergo a public consultation exercise as required by the Environmental Protection Act. Stakeholders, which would include the Malta Tourism Authority, recreational groups, residents, commercial outlets and the general public should also be consulted. It was only for urgent matters that such legislation could be issued, the Federation said, and this was not the case here.

The four NGOs said that they were unable to understand the government’s appeasement of the hunting lobby “at a time when increased illegal hunting incidents have characterised the current autumn hunting season.”

They accused the Environment Ministry of disservicing the general public by conceding favours to the hunting lobby, and not making efforts to find common ground which promoted the sustainable use of land.

“This move in favour of hunters and trappers constitutes a serious loss to families, eco lovers and students of nature as they are prevented from the relaxed enjoyment of open space at most hours without the presence of those who kill for sport,” the NGOs said. 

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