Hunting lobby group FKNK has come out strongly against Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia’s decision to declare Qawra Point a hunting-free zone and entrust BirdLife Malta with the management of the land.
“The government once again intends to collectively punish the hunting community because one person allegedly committed an illegality at Qawra Point,” FKNK said in a statement.
“This illegal act, announced by Aaron Farrugia without any prior consultation with the Ornis Committee as he was legally obliged to do, declares that the zone will be a no-hunting area.”
“To rub salt in the wounds, he added that BirdLife Malta will be given this zone, the latest zone to be administered by a small group of people.”
FKNK argued that Farrugia’s decision goes against a 2015 announcement by then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to refer all decisions on hunting zones to the Ornis Committee, the government’s consultative body on trapping.
“Indeed, in 2016 BirdLife had proposed that Qawra Point be made a no-hunting zone, the FKNK protested strongly because it would have meant collective punishment and the issue stopped there,” it recounted, confirming it is considering taking legal action against the government.
Over the weekend, a 23-year-old man was prosecuted after killing four greater flamingos at Qawra Point, an act that was condemned by both BirdLife Malta and FKNK.
This morning, Farrugia said that beyond words of condemnation and justice eventually taking its course against the alleged poacher, immediate action needs to be taken.
He therefore declared Qawra Point to be a no-hunting zone, with the area given to BirdLife Malta to manage in a ‘guardianship deed’ that will be signed in the coming weeks.
BirdLife Malta hailed the minister’s decision, stating they’re happy that “common sense has prevailed”.
“It is a pity that another four highly-protected greater flamingoes had to be killed for this decision to be taken, but we welcome the news that finally no more hunting will be allowed at Qawra Point, something we have been insisting on for quite a number of years,” the NGO said.
Cover photo: Left: Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, Right: FKNK president Lucas Micallef
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