FKNK denies report on its meeting with the PL
Times publishes audio of statements
Updated Monday 6.12 p.m.
The FKNK this afternoon denied sections of a report carried in yesterday's The Sunday Times where it was reported that the Labour Party has promised hunters it will amend legislation regulating the spring and autumn hunting seasons as well as the number of birds which can be shot.
Joe Perici Calascione told The Sunday Times that a Labour Party technical committee had confirmed that proposed changes are possible under a Labour Government.
The FKNK recently requested a revision of the current framework legislation regulating hunting with a particular emphasis on a tenfold increase in the bag limit.
The law hammered out between the Government and the European Commission had established an annual 20,000 bag limit of turtle doves and quails. According to the FKNK, this can be increased to about 200,000 per year without prejudicing EU laws.
When asked whether Labour has already agreed to these changes, Mr Perici Calascione said: "Labour's technical people agree with our proposals and told us this is possible and that they will change things in accordance with EU rules."
"There is consensus between us and Labour that we will move forward on this proposal. However, I am speaking on technical terms and not on political terms," he said.
Labour's spokesman on Home Affairs and avid hunter Michael Falzon is believed to be on the party's technical team. When contacted, Dr Falzon refused to provide any details, saying it was not remit and he asked the newspaper to contact Leo Brincat, the party's spokesman on the environment.
However, Mr Brincat said hunting does not really fall under his remit as "present and future policy" on hunting is delegated to a technical committee presided over by Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, the party's president.
When asked to confirm whether the party has made specific promises to the FKNK, the Director of Communications confirmed regular meetings had been held "with the aim of streamlining hunting and trapping rules in accordance with EU legislation".
The current framework legislation on hunting was enacted in 2010 following a European Court judgment in which Malta was found guilty of breaching EU legislation during the first years of its accession. But it also permitted a 'limited' and 'restrictive' spring hunting season.
The first framework legislation, which suggested a three-week restricted season in spring, had to be watered down by the Maltese authorities after infringement procedures were initiated by Brussels.
Commission sources and pro-environment lobby groups warned Malta could once again be in hot water if the current framework legislation is amended.
"It is clear to us that what is being promised to hunters cannot be achieved. However, we are not surprised with these political promises on the eve of an election," Birdlife Malta's president Joe Mangion said.
The FKNK is also insisting that the Government applies a derogation to the EU's Birds Directive to allow the trapping of songbirds during the ongoing autumn season. Infringement procedures have already been launched against Malta on this issue.
Sources said that although the Government is still toying with the idea of permitting some kind of trapping, it first wants to make sure that any future derogation fully respects the restrictions of EU laws and particularly the ECJ's judgment against Malta.
The FKNK in a statement issued today denied sections of the above report. In view of the federation's declarations, The Sunday Times is uploading the recording of the statements made by Mr Perici Calascione (Hear audio by clicking on the photo arrow above)
In its statement, the FKNK said:
The Federation for Hunting & Conservation – Malta (FKNK) refers to the article published in the issue of the Sunday Times of the 23rd. September 2012 (and on its internet portal) wherein it was stated that: "The Labour Party has promised hunters it will amend legislation regulating the spring and autumn hunting seasons as well as the number of birds which can be shot, according to the hunters' federation president"
"This article in both its factual content and in the corresponding implications is, in its most important aspects misleading, untrue and incorrect. This 'right-of-reply' media release is precisely being made to clarify matters and state the truth, as the FKNK has always done:
- The FKNK President NEVER made the above statement;
- The fact that the FKNK has been involved in continuous discussions with representatives of the Labour Party on a technical basis has been publicly stated before and is no secret. The same can be said for meetings that have resumed with the Nationalist Party, also on a technical platform. The FKNK has always and will continue to do its utmost to safeguard the rights of its thousands of members and such meetings (as is the case with meetings on other areas represented by their respective associations and entities) normally culminate close to general elections time in official declarations issued by the FKNK on the position of both parties on the issue; no more, no less;
- The FKNK has NOT recently requested revision of hunting and trapping regulations with any emphasis on a tenfold increase in the bag limit. The FKNK has been requesting revision of regulations, including to the 2010 framework legislation, since enactment of Legal Notice 79 of 2006, and NEVER made any emphasis on a tenfold increase in the bag limit. This 'tenfold increase' is nothing short of a manipulation of an FKNK Press Conference address of the 10th instant, which can be accessed from: http://www.huntinginmalta.org.mt/uploads/53/865/Press_Konf_ECJ_anniv_10-09-12.pdf .
Whilst it is not clear as to what occasioned the grave misrepresentation of facts contained in this article, the extent of such misrepresentation is very substantial and goes well beyond what may normally be acceptable and thus required immediate redress. FKNK would like to think that the incorrectness of this article is not occasioned by any particular underlying agenda which has nothing to do with the facts at issue.
To try to warp facts and statements to make them sound blatantly in favour of one political party or another is not really sound journalism and if this article is anything to go by, then the FKNK feels sympathy for our citizens that are only being fed sensational elements interpreted in a manner that aspire to reach the agenda of a particular journalist or other.
In view of the implications of various incorrect and untrue statements in this article, the FKNK will be seeking legal advice in order to safeguard its interests and those of its members."