Times of Malta, 13 August 2009

The decision not to completely ban hunting and trapping at the Majjistral Park was incongruent with the rationale for such a protected area, the Malta Tourism Society said.

While it understood hunting and trapping had become part of the social culture and traditions of a sector of the population, it stressed the need for appropriate zones for such activities.

National parks or protected areas were not appropriate zones for hunting and trapping. It is expected such activities would not be allowed to conflict with those who sought other activities, such as eco-tourism experiences, cycling and walking in the park and its confines, the society said.

“The park and other protected areas need to be totally and at all times designated as a protected area for eco-tourism and more peaceful and sustainable activities.”

The board of Majjistral Park recently voted in favour of restricting hunting in the area although the NGOs that manage it would have preferred a total ban.

The decision was not unanimous, with the three government representatives on the board and its government-appointed chairman opting to restrict hunting on the site and the three NGOs, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Gaia Foundation and Nature Trust, going against the motion.

The restriction effectively means hunting would have to stop at 9 a.m. and hunters would have to leave the area by 9.30 a.m.

Hundreds of people had signed an online petition by the NGOs calling for a ban on hunting in the park.

The society also called for updated regulations for horse-drawn carriages and the Maltese dgħajsa, saying this traditional form of transport should be seen as a lucrative tourist attraction that added value to the island’s history and culture.