AD visits nature reserve, “but still no sign of PN” – Birdlife

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AD visits nature reserve, "but still no sign of PN" - BirdlifeBirdlife Malta said today that the Green Party visited Is-Simar today to discuss wildlife protection and hunting regulations with BirdLife, “but” the NGO said, there is “still no sign of PN.”

This afternoon BirdLife Malta hosted a delegation of Alternativa Demokratika election candidates, including party leader Michael Briguglio, who visited Is-Simar Nature Reserve, in Xemxija.

Last week the conservation NGO met with Joseph Muscat and Labour Party candidates at Ghadira Nature Reserve and the NGO said that it has had an open invitation to Lawrence Gonzi and the Nationalist Party to do the same since January.

BirdLife Malta Executive Director, Steve Micklewright, welcomed Mr Briguglio, along with AD candidates Silvan Agius and David Camilleri, at the wetland reserve’s visitor centre, where the politicians were introduced to the habitat restoration work that BirdLife has carried out as well as some of the bird species the reserve is home to, including Kingfishers and Coots.

During the visit BirdLife and AD discussed wildlife protection and environmental policy, with Mr Micklewright putting a series of questions to Mr Briguglio about AD’s positions.

Asked about spring hunting, Mr Briguglio said that “AD fully supported BirdLife’s call for Malta to adhere to the Birds Directive without applying derogations for spring hunting of Turtle Dove and Quail, two species of conservation concern with declining European populations.”

Mr Briguglio also said he supported BirdLife’s calls for the “creation of a wildlife crime unit to strengthen enforcement of wildlife protection laws and was shocked by PL’s contradictory statement that it would reintroduce the practice of finch-trapping if elected.”

Birdlife said that, “finch-trapping has been illegal since 2009 after a five year phasing-out period as agreed on Malta’s accession to the European Union and Joseph Muscat has repeatedly said that he would not re-open discussions on anything that was agreed on Malta joining the EU.”

Referring to a joint statement by seven environmental NGOs issued today, which voiced the organisations’ concerns about the lack of engagement and consultation from the two main parties on environmental issues, especially in the light of PL’s agreement with the FKNK, Mr Micklewright called on the PN to clarify its position, “we have now had discussions with both Labour and the Green Party, but have so far heard nothing from Dr Gonzi and PN. We would like to know exactly where they stand on the issues raised by our ‘Your Voice Counts’ campaign.”

Mr Micklewright presented a copy of a PN campaign advertisement that appeared in the Times of Malta today, which suggested that PN would safeguard birds and public access to the countryside asking, “Where has PN’s voice on these issues in the last two months?”

“If they are sincere about tackling problems of illegal hunting, bird conservation and countryside access, there is still time for them to make a clear commitment,” Mr Micklewright concluded.

Photo – BirdLife Malta Executive Director, Steve Micklewright, and Alternativa Demokratika leader, Michael Briguglio – Photograph by Helen Hall.

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