BirdLife appalled at PL, FKNK meeting
BirdLife Malta 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.
BirdLife Executive Director Steve Micklewright 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.”
While the carefully worded agreement states that any changes will be made ‘in conformity with the European framework’, and it commits hunters and the PL to take ‘serious measures’ on the ‘enforcement of laws so that in no way illegalities are tolerated’, the 6 point agreement contains commitments that appear to go against this.
Steve Micklewright added that whilst 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 licenses to be revoked forever, but there is no such commitment. We will of course push for this if PL is elected to government.”
Similarly the agreement includes an explicit commitment that a correct derogation is applied on the traditional trapping of finches and every other species of bird specified in the relative regulations, Mr Micklewright said.
Mr Micklewright commented that finch-trapping is expressly forbidden under European law and Malta committed to phase out finch trapping on its accession to the EU. “If a derogation is applied it will be a huge backward step for the conservation of wild birds in Malta and will inevitably result in action against Malta by the EU.”
In recent days BirdLife Malta has lobbied heavily for the removal of any commitment to end the two week September 15:00h curfew on bird hunting to protect birds of prey from illegal hunting during the peak autumn migration period, and such a commitment is not explicitly stated in the PL and FKNK agreement.
Steve Micklewright added that Whilst BirdLife are relieved that the removal of the 15:00h 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.”
BirdLife is also disappointed that PL has not tackled the wider issues associated with bird hunting and trapping in the agreement. Steve Micklewright said that BirdLife’s ‘Your Voice Campaign’ has been highlighting the effect of widespread hunting on trapping on its impact on free and safe access to the countryside for the people of Malta, issues that do not seem to have even entered in to the discussions between PL and FKNK over the last two years.