MaltaToday: BirdLife urges PM to withdraw plans for spring hunting
NEWS | Sunday, 20 January 2008

BirdLife urges PM to withdraw plans for spring hunting

As the date for the eventual opening of the spring hunting season for this year draws nearer, BirdLife has urged the Maltese government to immediately retract from its intention to allow another hunting season starting in March.
In its letter to Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi on Friday, BirdLife Malta President Joseph Mangion wrote: “Malta’s insistence on allowing spring hunting and trapping has already become a European wide embarrassment for our country.
“As an example, the European Parliament’s resolution of March 15 last year is a very rare example of a Member State being openly urged by a great majority of MEPs from the whole political spectrum to comply with EU law,” Mangion said.
The conservation organisation also reminded the Prime Minister that there was absolutely no justification for allowing another spring hunting season in Malta in 2008.
It said Gonzi had absolutely no mandate from “the overwhelming majority of the Maltese public” who are against spring hunting.
“In spite of this stark reality our government still attempts to appease the hunters’ lobby,” Mangion said.
“It is very clear that government’s decision to allow another spring hunting season is not based on the best interest of the Maltese public or the government’s duties but based on the interest of their political party.”
The government this week sent its reply to the European Commission’s final written warning on spring hunting which was sent to Malta on 17 October last year.
Birdlife explained how the response was sent with almost a month’s delay and, according to media reports, Commission sources stated that ‘it is very likely that the issue will now have to be decided by the European Court of Justice (ECJ)’ indicating that the government “is committed to opening another spring hunting season in 2008 in direct violation of the European Union (EU) law”.
On its part, BirdLife International’s EU Policy Manager Konstantin Kreiser based in Brussels said: “Malta is not only facing a European Court case. By declaring another spring hunting season for 2008, it is also likely to provoke Interim Measures of the Court – which would enter into force immediately.
“The Polish Via Baltica (Rospuda) case last year showed that the Court no longer accepts delaying tactics of Member States. The Maltese government should learn this lesson before it is too late,” she warned.
The Commission is expected to take Malta to the ECJ within the next few weeks. If the government decides to fight the case in Court and open another spring hunting season, then the Court can decide on Interim Measures and stop spring hunting until a verdict has been reached.
“We have every reason to be furious with the government and also with certain politicians both from the Nationalist and Labour parties who persist in making promises to the hunting fraternity that go against the conservation laws with the hope of winning their votes.
“How can any government expect its citizens to abide by the law when it has no respect for EU law and the conservation of our natural heritage?” Mangion concluded.

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