BirdLife demands closure of hunting at sea after “massacre” of Shelducks
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BirdLife Malta has said that whilst yesterday’s Ornis Committee meeting was in session, “hunters at sea were carrying out a massacre of protected Shelducks off the northeast coast of Malta.”
In a statement BLM said that more than 10 of these protected ducks from a flock of 23 were observed being killed. “Although the culprits escaped, the owner of the boat in question was identified and investigations are ongoing.” BirdLife added that photos and footage of this illegal act were collected.
BirdLife Malta said that it requested there and then that Ornis recommends the closure of the hunting season at sea but the motion it put forward was voted down, “with the hunting lobby downplaying the illegality and stating that stopping hunting at sea would amount to collective punishment.”“The majority of people in Malta care for the environment, and the only collective punishment in Malta is towards our society which is being denied the enjoyment of the countryside and the beauty of bird migration due to the rampant illegal hunting taking place,” stated BirdLife Malta.
BirdLife Malta’s proposal was voted down, and the votes against, it said, came from the hunters’ federation and the three government representatives as well as with the abstentions of the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA) representative and the Ornis Chairman.
It is clear from the number of injured seabirds observed during the past two months – including yesterday’s incident – that illegal hunting at sea is not being controlled by police, said BLM.
BirdLife Malta said that it reminds the Government that despite the outcome of the vote taken yesterday, “its rights and obligations still remain and that its statements of zero tolerance are yet to be seen in action.”
BirdLife Malta reiterated its call on the Government “to take action and show for a fact that the rampant illegalities are not tolerated, by closing the season.”
Photos Shelducks at Salina Nature Reserve, part of a flock of six which landed at the reserve earlier this week, two of which had visible gunshot injuries (Photo by BirdLife Malta); and off St. Paul’s Islands, 16th January, A boat photographed with three hunters on board, one of them picking up one of the ten Shelducks gunned down in the area after being chased by a boat. Shelducks are protected species and hunting at sea is prohibited within 3km of the coastline. (Photo by BirdLife Malta)