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PL will keep spring hunting derogation

Labour leader Joseph Muscat signs autographs for children of Labour party volunteers during a visit to watch a 5D film about Malta’s history at the City Theatre in Valletta on the campaign trail yesterday. Photo: Jason BorgLabour leader Joseph Muscat signs autographs for children of Labour party volunteers during a visit to watch a 5D film about Malta’s history at the City Theatre in Valletta on the campaign trail yesterday. Photo: Jason Borg

The derogation allowing spring hunting in Malta will continue to applied, Labour leader Joseph Muscat promised yesterday.

There were EU regulations and these would be followed, he said following a meeting with Birdlife Malta representatives at the Għadira Nature Reserve.

“Had we been hunting for votes we would have sent hunters and trappers pre-electoral letters promising things we cannot deliver,” he said, stressing there would be no re-negotiation of the EU package on hunting.

Hunters would not be given concessions, as illegal hunting would remain illegal and EU rules would be respected.

Since it joined the EU in 2004, Malta has allowed hunting in spring for turtle doves and quail.

Dr Muscat told Birdlife members that his position on spring hunting was not what they wanted to hear and that this was “fair enough”, but he insisted that the party was not promising anything which it could not deliver.

He wanted Maltese hunters to get the same treatment as foreign hunters, including the abolishment of the €50 licence for spring hunting.

He said he favoured the idea of establishing a Wildlife Crime Unit, which would encompass a beefed up police Administrative Law Enforcement unit as well as other enforcement entities.

Replying to a question by Birdlife Malta director Steve Micklewright, Dr Muscat said he was “intrigued” by the idea of having a nature reserve in the south, saying his government would be committed to finding a site.

Mr Micklewright also asked Dr Muscat whether he supported the idea of banning hunting in Natura 2000 sites, allowing people more access to open spaces.

Dr Muscat replied: “There could be a compromise. We would be willing discuss this issue for a compromise to be reached and for common sense to prevail.”

Meanwhile, Dr Muscat later watched a 5D film on Malta’s history at the City Theatre in Valletta with children of Labour party volunteers. He told the children that the current electoral campaign was all about them because the party wanted to build a better future for them, including by providing them with the best education, teachers and jobs.

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