Updated - Government postpones legal notice establishing fixed autumn hunting season - FKNK
The government had been on the verge of issuing a legal notice establishing a fixed autumn hunting season but this was then postponed
FKNK president Joe Perici Calascione told a news conference this afternoon that the fixed autumn season as well as a review of the legislation to close certain loopholes and ambiguities were two of the points agreed with the Labour Party.
Although discussions had been going with the government, he said, the Nationalist Party had always refused to meet hunters.
Mr Perici Calascione expressed anger at a Nationalist Party advert in newspapers today taking a dig at the PL’s agreement with hunters.
He said that the PN had adopted a different attitude when it was in opposition in 1998. An agreement had then been signed between hunters and Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, who was then secretary general of the PN. The PN had then pledged that hunters would not lose any of their rights.
Asked what hunters meant with “the correct application of the derogation” in their agreement with the PL, Mr Perici Calascione said the government had applied the derogation 12 times, each time incorrectly.
The reasons vary from purely technical reasons to other issues in which Malta was “holier than the Pope” such as when it came to bag limits. Although the commission only mandated a national bag limit, nowhere was the request for individual and daily bag limits, as had been applied by Malta, made.
He noted that a European Commission formula would allow hunters to shoot up to 120,000 quails and 79,000 turtle doves. Last year, following consultation with Brussels, the season was opened between April 14 and 30 with a national bag limit of 11,000 turtle doves and 5,000 quails.
“We are in no way saying that we want these higher limits but this goes to show that the limits adopted by the Maltese government are ridiculously low.”
When asked what guarantee did they have that the PL would not take hunters for a ride, Mr Perici Calascione said hunters had had a similar agreement with PL in 1996 and all points agreed upon had been implemented within a month of the election. This was unlike in 1998 when hunters had also had a written agreement with the PN.
ST HUBERT HUNTERS HIT OUT AT DR GONZI
Meanwhile, the St Hubert Hunters Association said that Dr Gonzi, on behalf of the Nationalist Party, had on the eve of the 1998 election with the Hunting Federation which amongst other assurances stated that the PN assured its full cooperation in finding suitable solutions to the points raised.
Dr. Gonzi as PN deputy leader prior to the EU referendum also endorsed the written letters by Prime Minister Fenech Adami and all the PN publications concerning guarantees sent to all hunters and trappers.
"At the time of these agreements the Nationalist Party was content with having 10,000 guns and 4000 trappers on its side. Also it was not concerned about keeping “country weekends free and peaceful, open spaces in which children can play, adults can unwind and dogs roam” neither was it concerned with “keeping birds safe within European law””. On the contrary it lowered the age for people to obtain a gun license and until quite recently it “stuck out it neck” for hunters."
But, the association said, the eve of the 2013 elections now see a different Nationalist Party led by the same Dr Gonzi 'that seems to be preying on another sector of society for votes.'
Having weighed its options it was ignoring the hunters' concerns and turned green to try and win green votes.
"Apart from having still having to prove its green credentials, since beautiful words and opening parks on the eve of an election is not that convincing after 25 years in government, the Nationalist Party seems out to lure another sector of society. Perhaps if it belatedly realizes its mistakes it might audaciously reconsider luring the hunters back in the future with more signed guarantees, agreements and promises. So really the environmentalists and any other sector of society had better be careful if this experiment fails as it could be their turn next to be discarded," the association said.