Press Release 12 April 2010

The NGOs Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien ghall-Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Malta Organic Agriculture Movement, Nature Trust (Malta) and Ramblers’ Association Malta support BirdLife Malta in condemning the government’s decision to open another spring hunting season despite the European Court of Justice ruling of last September which concluded that Malta’s past Spring Hunting derogations were unlawful.

The NGOs criticised the government and the hunting lobby for trying to give the impression that the Ornis Committee’s recommendation to the government for the opening of the spring hunting season was an independent one. In actual fact during the last Ornis Committee meeting the majority abstained or voted against the duration and bag quotas proposed by MEPA, but the decision was taken by the votes of government-appointed Chairman, MEPA representative and former assistant of a Minister. This was despite the fact that MEPA’s proposal was not based on a valid scientific assessment or legal review.

Moreover, the fact that Malta’s environment protection agency had pushed for the opening of a spring hunting season at the Ornis clearly demonstrates that MEPA is simply acting in favour of interest groups and not in a way that protects the environment. MEPA is the Malta agency responsible to see that the Birds Directive is enforced – their recommendation therefore indicates a contradiction.

The NGOs also slammed the Labour Party for trying to gain political leverage by making statements clearly attempted to appease the hunting lobby. This contradicts with the previous statements of Joseph Muscat who publicly stated that his party would respect the EU law and the Court ruling. On such an important decision where the country risks being taken to the European Court of Justice and incurring fines, PL’s irresponsible statements in support of hunting lobby’s endless demands show that PL is more interested in cheap political stunts than safeguarding Malta’s reputation in Europe and the protection our natural environment.