By Matthew Vella
A legal notice published today has increased penalties for poaching ten-fold, leading to a €5,000 fine for anyone convicted of poaching protected birds, as well as a possible one-year prison sentence, a permanent ban on their hunting or trapping licence, and the confiscation of their hunting apparatus.
A second offence carries a €10,000 penalty and two years’ imprisonment.
“The recent spate of incidents involving highly protected birds demonstrated that despite previous increases in legal deterrent and improvements in field enforcement, the problem of illegal targeting of protected birds still remains to be fully addressed,” parliamentary secretary for animal welfare and agriculture Roderick Galdes said.
“These harsher penalties are definitely expected to have a huge effect on overall enforcement situation. But legal deterrent alone will not be enough.”
Galdes said that the increase in penalties will be part of a “broader package of measures” that will “stamp out illegal targeting of highly protected birds”.
The parliamentary secretary said his office was collaborating closely with police and other law enforcement authorities to improve field surveillance and enforcement.
He announced a crackdown on illegal taxidermy “in the coming months” and trade in protected wild birds, amongst the main motives behind poaching.
Galdes has now called on hunting organisations and conservationist NGOs to sign a symbolic message and profess adherence to promote unity in the fight against poaching.
Downloadable Files Joint Communique on hunting and poaching
“Above all, eradication of abuse should not be seen as a problem that can be solved by authorities only. It is a problem that demands joint thinking and real collaboration amongst all sectors of society, and in particular – amongst all voluntary organizations active within this sector,” Galdes said.
The parliamentary secretary claimed that it was “polarisation and division” between hunting organisations and conservationist NGOs at the root of the “slow progress” against poaching.
“This situation should not be allowed to persist any longer. It is high time for the entire spectrum of organizations to rally together and join forces with the government to fully eradicate abuse. I therefore appeal to all NGOs, to publicly express our common resolve to eradicate illegal taking and trade in wild birds in Malta by endorsing and signing up to the Joint Communiqué.”