Birdlife Malta has questioned the PN’s environmental credentials after Bernard Grech’s Shadow Cabinet reshuffle saw the creation of a portfolio dedicated to protecting hunters’ rights.
“The reshuffle by the Hon. Bernard Grech is disappointing on many levels and does not augur well for the natural environment and anyone who cares about it.”
“Primarily because the only two major changes are related to the removal of portfolios from two people who were vociferous against illegal hunting and overdevelopment,” Birdlife CEO Mark Sultana said.
Grech announced his reshuffle yesterday, which saw David Thake removed as the PN spokesperson for the environment and Kevin Cutajar removed as the PN spokesperson for lands, construction and planning.
“[Thake and Cutajar] stated that environmental laws always need to be respected and serious enforcement is lacking. They also commented on the fact that overdevelopment is destroying our island and that better planning is crucial,” Sultana explained.
Sultana said he was not hopeful that their replacements, Robert Cutajar and Hermann Schiavone, would work to protect biodiversity.
“When it comes to hunting, politicians go weak at the knees and lose their spine. To add insult to injury PN Leader Bernard Grech has also decided to have a Shadow Minister catering for the protection of the hunting and trapping ‘pastimes’.”
“The message I get from the PN is that they are not pro-environment.”
“I urge all NGOs that aim to help the environment to prepare themselves for the long haul. Our mission has never been more needed, especially now that it is clear that there is no alternative in favour of the environment in any future political scenario,” Sultana said.
Grech’s attempt to cosy up to hunters and trappers also brought criticism from ADPD, with Carmel Capocardo raising concern over a meeting with hunting lobby group FKNK.
Hunting and trapping remain a controversial issue with reports on illegalities often stirring a strong public response. A referendum to ban spring hunting was unsuccessful.
More recently, there has been controversy over a government deal that handed over management of the Miżieb and Aħrax woodland areas to hunters.
Despite public backlash, the FKNK has insisted that the woodland areas will remain open to the public, albeit during hunting season, where certain restrictions will be implemented to safeguard both hunters and the general public.
The hunting lobby has also advocated for “green wardens” who will be patrolling and monitoring the woodland areas and can even issue fines to those who are found breaking the law.
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