Updated: ‘Hunting at sea permitted until 31st January’ – FKNK

Common Shelduck - Denis Cachia

The hunting season for those hunting at sea will remain open until 31st January. This was said by the Federazzjoni Kaċċaturi Nassaba Konservazzjonisti in a statement following BirdLife Malta’s proposed ‘collective punishment’ being voted against by the Ornis Committee.

According to the FKNK, BirdLife called for the Environment Ministry to immediately shut down the hunting season off boats after allegations that someone unknown at sea may have shot an uncertain amount of wild ducks, which species needs to be identified, and which are being presumed to be protected. This constitutes a ‘collective punishment’ which, according to the statement, is illegal.

BirdLife’s proposal was tabled in front of the Ornis Committee, where it was voted down by the FKNK and the three Government representatives in the Committee. The Environment and Resources Authority representative and the Committee’s Chairman meanwhile abstained.

Hunters picking up on of the dead Shelducks, a protected species, from the sea. Hunting at sea is prohibited within 3km of the coastline. – BirdLife Malta

BirdLife Malta’s statement

In a counter-statement, BirdLife said that even during the meeting with the Ornis Committee “hunters at sea were carrying out a massacre of protected Shelducks off the northeast coast of Malta”. The NGO also spoke of over 10 protected birds out of a flock of 23 were observed being killed with photos and video footage to prove it.

BirdLife also said that although the culprits got away, the boat’s owner was identified and Police are investigating the case. “It is clear … that illegal hinting at sea is not being controlled by police,” the NGO said in their statement claiming the number of visibly injured seabirds over the last two months.

Injured Common Shelducks seen at Salina Nature Reserve. – BirdLife Malta

To the FKNK’s “collective punishment” statement, BirdLife argued that “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.”

BirdLife also spoke directly to the Government directly saying that despite talk of zero-tolerance to illegalities, little has actually been done. With a renewed call for the authorities to close the hunting at sea season, the NGO also reminded that Government that it has obligations to the Maltese people despite the vote taken by the Ornis Committee.