Letters to the Malta Independent, 26. January 2002
Tourism and the swan massacre
Tourism Minister Michael Refalo is reported to have told The Malta Independent (24 January) that he did not expect tourism to be adversely affected by the publicity.
"These people give Malta and law abiding hunters and trappers a bad name. Shooting protected birds out of the water is not sport but cold- blooded murder. However since the State and the whole population of Malta, including the hunting lobby, has roundly condemned the outrage, and as immediate action was taken against the alleged culprits, any reasonable person, tourists included, should conclude that Malta has the political will to eradicate abuse of hunting laws."
Now let me show where the Tourism Minister is gravely mistaken. First of all, I cannot understand how "shooting protected birds out of the water is...cold-blooded murder" and shooting other birds is not.
This simply does not make sense. Killing birds is either murder or not, irrespective of whether the bird is legally protected or not. My opinion is that the Tourism Minister used the word "murder" to please the animal rights activists. Well, we are not so naive.
Secondly, it is not the prompt intervention and immediate action that is being questioned here, but the lenient present legislation which is no deterrent.
Unless the laws concerning animal welfare are urgently updated, similar occurrences will continue to go on and on, and it is this that animal rights activists and tourists rightly protest about. As to whether the tourism industry will be affected or not, only time will tell.
Let us hope that action will be taken before this happens.