PROACT MALTA BULLETINS 2001
Complacency or Ignorance?
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From The Malta Independent June 27, 2001

Complacency or just pure ignorance?

Some weeks ago you kindly published a letter from me on behalf of the Eurobirder group, protesting against the continued barbaric and outdated practices of bird trapping and shooting on your islands.

In April this year we also addressed the President of Malta, the Prime Minister and the heads of ministries and departments concerned or most closely affected. The response has been, to say the least, disappointing.

Whereas the matter continues to be of increasing interest to environmentalists (in the broadest sense) and ordinary people outside your islands, especially in the European Community, your elected and appointed representatives are either complacent or wish to ignore the problem entirely. Be assured, the problem will not go away.

Our first half-page reply was from the police commissioner, who assured us that the law was being implemented, and offenders brought to justice, wherever possible. I know from first-hand reports that the police are trying to get to grips with the problem; but the ALE is a small, under-equipped unit, which is stretched to the utmost. As we pointed out to the commissioner, this is one field where practical assistance from the EU would be beneficial. One could do worse than take advice from the British police whose establishment of a network of Wildlife Liaison Officers, although far from complete, has done much to disrupt organised and spontaneous wildlife crime.

The Home Affairs Ministry sent us a holding reply. We are still waiting for a statement of their position.

Much better was the response from the Environment Protection Department. Following an initial telephone contact from the assistant to the director, we received a very comprehensive and detailed letter.

Unfortunately it completely missed the point. We were at first charged with being ill-informed. Apart from the considerable research which we carried out before committing ourselves to the campaign, we also sought contact with organisations and private individuals on Malta; as well as with foreign 'witnesses' to the bloody spectacles which regularly appal many visitors.

As to the question of priorities, other environmental issues being more important to the health and well-being of Maltese citizens, and therefore more in need of funding, we agree wholeheartedly.

Declaring hunting and trapping completely unlawful and anti-social is a no-cost measure which, we believe, a majority of citizens would support (are there any female hunters for example?). It would be one burden (and a 'hot potato') less for the department. Instead, the Maltese politicians hang on to an outdated conception of the voters' wishes, deter more and more tourists from contributing their dollars and euros to your economy and cause irreparable and lasting damage to the image of your country abroad.

Replies from the President's Office, the Prime Minister, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and for Tourism, and the Malta Tourism Authority have to date not been received. I doubt that we will now be honoured with a reply.

It is sad that justified foreign interest in this matter should be treated with such provincial indifference.

David Conlin
Germany
(On behalf of over 200 European birders and supporters from four other continents.)


FOREIGN INTEREST TREATED WITH PROVINCIAL INDIFFERENCE

Eurobirder/Proact-Malta David Conlin 2001