Letters | Sunday, 08 March 2009

Intentional misinformation on hunting

Tolga Temuge in the opinion page “spring hunting’ of March 1, 2009,. either due to plain ignorance of facts or intentionally, stated “spring hunting and trapping is expressly forbidden by the EU birds directive” and that trapping using clap nets is banned under the Birds Directive throughout the EU. These statements cannot be further from the truth.
The Birds Directive (
o?uri=CELEX:31979L0409:EN:HTML) regulates which species can be taken and allows each Member States to determine the hunting open seasons for such species to be taken. The Birds Directive does not forbid hunting in spring, but allows it under use of derogation (exceptions in the law) provided that the member states satisfy the EU Commission of their purpose. In the Case of the UK, the use of derogation allows for the shooting of 14 species of birds throughout the year including spring ( Mr Temuge now knows that the UK is a member of the EU where spring hunting is allowed. He also should know that Birdlife Malta where aware, and agreed to the Maltese governments intention of using a derogation for the capture during the spring migration of Turtle Dove and the Common Quail.
As for trapping, France, Spain Austria and Italy derogate from the same Birds directive Mr Temuge refers to and are allowed to trap a number of bird species using the same clap nets used in Malta.
Malta derogated for spring shooting from under article 9 section (c):” to permit, under strictly supervised conditions and on a selective basis, the capture, keeping or other judicious use of certain birds in small numbers.” The fact that Malta’s right to derogate is being contested is directly related to BirdLife Malta’s lobbying and their manipulation of facts.
The Maltese government has no agreement with the EU for allowing spring shooting, though during negotiations, the EU acknowledged its intention to derogate. It however has a right like all other EU states to derogate for such a purpose. Contrary to what Mr Temuge states, the interim measure for last year was taken as a precautionary measure only for the 2008 season. The derogation report for 2007 not being due at the time of the hearing, the court, not having any data to justify the opening of the 2008 season, ruled in favor of birds stating, “the interest of hunters does not have a value superior thereto”. Government has every right to derogate for this coming season and should the report for the 2007 season satisfy the commission, the season could be permitted. However, for fear of repercussions, Government has taken a submissive stand and chose to await the court’s decision. Malta was taken to Court for incorrectly derogating for years 2004, 2005, 2006 & 2007, and will be judged only for those years. Even if the Court’s final verdict rules against Malta this will not mean that in future government will be forbidden from its right to apply derogations. This can only happen were the Directive to be amended (never in its 30 years) and Article 9 removed, a power that the European Court of Justice does not have.
Therefore, Mr Temuge you are wrong, and one can only conclude, considering that your position at Birdlife Malta should make you an expert in these matters, your ignorance of the matter is intentional. You might be aiming at putting pressure on our government, gaining support by misinforming the public and possibly even that of Environment Commissioner Dimas, but your untruths will definitely will not influence the court’s decision.
Malta’s prospective MEP, Edward Demicoli in the same opinion page, in order to defend his anti-hunting stand chose to give his version of facts. Apart from offering hunters a guarantee for the continuance of spring hunting, as deputy head of the Malta EU information centre (MIC), he now seems to have become an authority on spring hunting. He states that he is against spring hunting because “it is not sustainable”. How he reached this scientific conclusion is beyond comprehension. He even states, “there is no justification for a derogation” before even the European courts can reach such conclusions. Trying to justify himself has only made his stand even more pathetic. He also refers to the Finnish case where the only similarity to the Malta case he might be aware of is that before membership, the Finnish Government had people like himself employed to guarantee spring hunting to the Finnish electorate.
His copy paste explanations are no excuse for his vote-grabbing gimmick. He continues ruining his credibility by saying, “the government has stated that on the issue of spring hunting it will continue fighting the case in the European Courts of Justice. There is no doubt that it should”, this is what he at MIC guaranteed. However, what if government won the case, would Mr Demicoli be campaigning against his own party that unashamedly allowed him to contest in contradiction to its guarantees to hunters. I am afraid Mr Demicoli does not know if he is coming or going.


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