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European Commission urges FKNK to stop Smear Campaign

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EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater project
In a letter sent to the FKNK (Federation for Hunting and Conservation Malta) on 11th July, the Head of the LIFE Unit of the European Commission urged the Federation to remove a video produced by the FKNK council and posted on its YouTube channel, attacking the EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater project.

The Commission’s letter comes in response to a recent smear campaign launched by the FKNK against the EU Life Yelkouan Shearwater Project. Since this year’s spring hunting ban, the FKNK has made serious allegations about BirdLife and the LIFE project which are completely unsubstantiated. The Federation has even gone so far as to send letters with similar unfounded allegations to BirdLife Malta’s other project sponsors including companies and Foreign Embassies in Malta.

In the video and letters in question, the FKNK claims, without providing any evidence, that the LIFE project is a “sham” and that the data obtained by the project partnership is invented. In their video, the hunting federation also illegally use images and photographs lifted directly from the LIFE project website.

Mr. Owen in his letter to the FKNK wrote: “Since that video is misleading and makes unsubstantiated allegations about the way in which EU funds are used, I ask you to make sure that the video in question is removed from the YouTube site as soon as possible.”

Despite this, the FKNK has not removed the video to date.

Mr. Owen also informed the FKNK that the LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater project is continually monitored by the Commission and stated that “The latest monitoring visit was done as late as March 2008 and confirmed that the project is being managed in a proper way and is producing the expected results.”

This point was echoed in an additional letter from Mr. Owen, addressed to BirdLife Malta on the 11th July, where he states that the Commission continues to support the LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater project, writing: “I consider that the project is progressing well towards its objectives and contributing in a significant way to the EU objective of ensuring the conservation of marine birds.”

The EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater project is a partnership of four governmental bodies in Malta and three conservation NGOs, including BirdLife Malta, the beneficiary of the Project. The project is 50% sponsored by the EU Life Unit with additional support from MEPA and HSBC.

In a press conference held early this week, the Project Partnership presented recent data obtained through the electronic tagging of these seabirds from the Rdum tal-Madonna colony and showed that two chicks that fledged this year have travelled as far as Greece, Crete and beyond to the Eastern Mediterranean. This is the first time in the world that GPS data loggers have been fitted to this species and the first time that satellite tags have been fitted to their chicks. This data is therefore important at an international level.

LIFE Project Manager Helen Raine said: “The success of the EU LIFE project has raised the profile of the important work that all the project partners are doing at an international level. We hope that the FKNK are able to recognise the value of this conservation work and desist with this smear campaign, which unfortunately is only serving to tarnish Malta’s reputation on an international level. We also hope that the government takes the necessary action to ensure the success of this and similar conservation projects in Malta.”

More information on the project can be obtained from www.lifeshearwaterproject.org.mt

EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater project

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