Times of Malta, 7 November 2010

Six environment NGOs have slammed the government’s policy on spring hunting, calling it ‘worrying and irresponsible’.

Din L-Art Helwa, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Gaia Foundation, Nature Trust (Malta) and the Ramblers Association Malta, said the authorities were simply wooing the minority and risked having the people shoulder more taxes to pay the fines which could be imposed by the EU.

The European Commission has warned that Malta could be taken before the European Court again after rejecting the government’s plans for a three-week spring hunting season.

The NGOs said that through its actions, the government was simply portraying Malta as a hunters’ haven.

“This could potentially put Malta’s reputation in a bad light, and hence result in negative impacts on the tourism sector and the economy,” they said.

“The Maltese electorate voted in favour of joining the EU to ensure a better way of life in various aspects, including the environment. The Birds Directive is one of the directives which EU member states are obliged to observe,” they insisted.

The NGOs also complained that some MEPs were ‘degrading themselves’ on this issue simply to please the hunters’ lobby group by trying to find excuses to go against the EU Birds Directive.

“The two main political parties – PN and PL – are prioritising political interests over the national interest by accommodating the unjustified demands of the minority and ignoring the rest of the population. Political parties should unite on this issue and not take advantage of each other at the expense of risking tax payers’ money, especially in the current economic climate. Birds are a worldwide heritage and not the property of a few,” the NGOs said.