Update – CABS welcome resignation of WBRU´s head Sergei Golovkin
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Update: with statement from the Ministry below – The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has welcomed the resignation of the head of the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU), Sergei Golovkin, and said that it now “demands the restructuring of enforcement.”
According to the organisation, in a statement today, it said that Golovkin had confirmed to them that he had submitted his resignation last week.
The organisation said that since Golovkin was appointed head of WBRU, “Malta’s hunting and trapping enforcement system has become a disaster and requires a total reform.”
“The damage his actions and proposals have done to Malta’s ability to enforce its hunting regulations and comply with international conservation conventions and directives is unimaginable.” CABS president Heinz Schwarze said.
He added that, “nearly all new rules and enforcement procedures established since Golovkin became head of the WBRU in 2014 have led to a significant breakdown of enforcement.”
Schwarze stated that, “according to statistics from WBRU annual reports available on their website, the number of protected birds seized on Malta declined from several thousands per year to only one bird being confiscated last year.”
He went on to point out that, “between 2013- 2017 the number of protected birds seized were 1046, 2087, 2621, 228, 1. From 2011 to 2014 MEPA´s bird experts had identified and tagged around 8000 stuffed birds in private collections to ensure that newly shot protected birds are not added to the collections or sold illegally – However from 2015 to 2017 the number was zero.”
“This shocking number means that in the past three years the trade and acquisition of stuffed birds has been completely unregulated.” Heinz Schwarze said.
Following the changes to the Conservation of Wild Birds law in 2016, the system of reporting hunting and trapping catches via carnet de chasse paper was replaced by phone reports, he said. “This revamp, proposed and spearheaded by Mr. Golovkin, was a total failure, as blatantly shown by the recently published data from 2017,” added Schwarze.
He pointed out that out of around 15,000 licences only 2,167 hunters and trappers reported catching game during the 2017 seasons.
“This clearly shows the phone system is neither valid nor reliable due to the unrealistically low number of reported catch in 2017. This throws into question all bag statistics published by the government since the new system was introduced,” said Schwarze.
H said that “this also directly affects the data given to the European Commission and the European Court of Justice and used to justify the derogations for finch trapping and spring hunting.”
“In fact the government has no clue how many birds were shot or trapped thus making it impossible to estimate if the practice is sustainable according to their own definition.”
Heinz Schwarze stated that “we therefore urge Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to stop spring hunting and trapping until a new, reliable reporting system has been set up.”
The eNGO also called upon the government to use Mr. Golovkin´s resignation “as an opportunity to re-establish a fully operational and effective system led by experienced ornithologists and lawmakers”
CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld said, such a step “should also include the return of responsibilities to the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) which – unlike WBRU – has experienced and unbiased ornithologists on its payroll.”
“The government must no longer tolerate the significant breakdown in the system we rely on to protect our natural heritage. Instead a thorough review is needed to ensure a complete overhaul of the current system,” Mr. Hirschfeld added.
Update – Ministry for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change
In a statement this afternoon, the Ministry has said that it, “formally confirms Mr Sergei Golovkin’s resignation from his position as Head of the Wild Bird Regulation Unit.”
The Ministry thanked Mr Golovkin for his service to the WBRU during the past years and added that it is “committed in implementing effective measures with respect to conservation of wild birds through adequate funding of projects, holistic educational programmes and a rigorous enforcement structure.”