PN avoids ad­vo­cat­ing hunt­ing sea­son clo­sure fol­low­ing il­le­gal­i­ties

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Gabriel Schem­bri

The Na­tion­al­ist Party will not be call­ing on gov­ern­ment to close this hunt­ing sea­son fol­low­ing an alarm­ing num­ber of re­ported il­le­gal­i­ties.

Op­po­si­tion spokesper­son for hunt­ing Charlo Bon­nici told The Malta In­de­pen­dent that the gov­ern­ment should stick to its word and en­force the law in or­der to en­sure that all il­le­gal­i­ties re­lated to hunt­ing are kept in check.

How­ever, he failed to spec­ify what the PN’s po­si­tion is over this con­tro­ver­sial mat­ter.

Back in 2007, a Na­tion­al­ist ad­min­is­tra­tion had de­cided to close that year’s hunt­ing sea­son af­ter the gov­ern­ment re­ceived re­ports of il­le­gal hunt­ing of pro­tected species.

Ru­ral Af­fairs and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter at the time, Ge­orge Pul­li­cino, had ex­plained that the de­ci­sion had been taken af­ter con­sul­ta­tions with Prime Min­is­ter Lawrence Gonzi. The sea­son was closed off 10 days prior to the of­fi­cial date.

Charlo Bon­nici said that there needs to be a co­or­di­nated ef­fort which should also in­clude the in­volve­ment of hunters them­selves. How­ever, Mr Bon­nici said “the onus rests pri­mar­ily with the gov­ern­ment to en­sure that il­le­gal­i­ties are curbed. Ul­ti­mately il­le­gal hunt­ing is a mat­ter for which the gov­ern­ment must an­swer to the pub­lic.”

Yes­ter­day, this news­pa­per pub­lished a story say­ing that the Prime Min­is­ter has the power to close down the hunt­ing sea­son even with­out a rec­om­men­da­tion by Or­nis Com­mit­tee. De­spite this, in a re­ply to ques­tions sent to a spokesper­son of the Prime Min­is­ter, it was said the sus­pen­sion of the hunt­ing sea­son is a pre­rog­a­tive of the Or­nis Com­mit­tee.

Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat has sus­pended the hunt­ing

sea­son twice be­fore in two sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions and he did so with­out a for­mal rec­om­men­da­tion by the Or­nis Com­mit­tee. How­ever, even af­ter a sea­son which was char­ac­terised by at least 23 cases of pro­tected birds be­ing shot down il­le­gally, the Prime Min­is­ter has re­mained silent.

Both the PN and the Labour Party had pub­licly said they are in favour of spring hunt­ing. These state­ments came from the two lead­ers be­fore a ref­er­en­dum which was won by the ‘yes’ cam­paign.

Speak­ing to The Malta In­de­pen­dent, BirdLife CEO Mark Sul­tana said that this hunt­ing sea­son is prob­a­bly the worst one in the last five years when it comes to re­ported cases of il­le­gal hunt­ing.

He said that the gov­ern­ment’s si­lence is wor­ry­ing. “Joseph Mus­cat has the power to stop the hunt­ing sea­son. He did so twice be­fore and he should do so now as the sit­u­a­tion al­ready seems to be out of con­trol.”

But when asked if the gov­ern­ment would be will­ing to sus­pend this sea­son fol­low­ing the nu­mer­ous re­ported cases, a spokesper­son for the Prime Min­is­ter said that sus­pen­sion is Or­nis Com­mit­tee’s pre­rog­a­tive.

“Ac­cord­ing to the reg­u­la­tions, for a hunt­ing sea­son to be sus­pended or for its pa­ram­e­ters to be changed, the pre­rog­a­tive stands with Or­nis Com­mit­tee,” the spokesper­son said.

How­ever, Mr Sul­tana ar­gued that the Prime Min­is­ter did not follow any Or­nis rec­om­men­da­tion be­fore halt­ing hunt­ing sea­sons be­fore. “I am sur­prised to see the dif­fer­ence be­tween the Prime Min­is­ter’s im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion two years ago, and the lack of ac­tion now,” the BirdLife CEO added.

“I think what the Prime Min­is­ter is do­ing is sim­ply pass­ing the buck to some­one else and try­ing to waste time.”

He said that the only thing which changed from 2014 till this day is that the en­force­ment be­came even weaker.

The Prime Min­is­ter had sus­pended the hunt­ing sea­son three days ahead of is of­fi­cial clo­sure back in April of 2015 when a pro­tected bird of prey was shot down by a hunter and fell into the foot­ball pitch of a school in Cot­ton­era.

A year ear­lier, the Prime Min­is­ter did the same thing and or­dered the sea­son’s sus­pen­sion. The gov­ern­ment had de­cided to im­me­di­ately stop the hunt­ing sea­son fol­low­ing in­ci­dents where pro­tected birds were shot down.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.