The government has transferred responsibility for hunting from the Ministry for the Environment to the Ministry for Gozo, in a move described by BirdLife as  'diabolical' and 'purely electoral'.

The decision means that Clint Camilleri will continue to be responsible for the sector, as he was when he was parliamentary secretary within the Ministry for the Environment. Gozo has a high proportion of hunters, and they tipped the balance in favour of the yes vote when the spring hunting referendum was held in 2015.

BirdLife CEO Mark Sultana said that the decision to transfer the Wild Birds Regulation Unit - the regulatory body which oversees hunting - to the Gozo Ministry was only intended to appease the hunting lobby, in view of the fact that Mr Camilleri is a hunter himself.

The shadow minister for the environment slammed the government's decision.The shadow minister for the environment slammed the government's decision.

BirdLife pointed out that Malta is already in hot water over the government’s hunting policy and has been slapped with an infringement procedure over its decision to allow trapping for songbirds and other species.

It hoped that the prime minister would become aware of what it described as “the subjective decision-making process” in the WBRU and what it described as the overwhelming presence of hunters and trappers in the unit.

The NGO urged the prime minister to reconsider his decision and place the WBRU within a ministry that reflected the aspirations of a nation that considered the environment as a priority.

The shadow minister for the environment, Jason Azzopardi, slammed the government's decision as shameful and said the prime minister was not deceiving anyone. 

Hunters welcome decision

The hunters' federation welcomed the prime minister's decision. It said Mr Camilleri has vast experience in the sector, both practical and administrative, locally and in the EU instiuttions.

Decision raised in parliament

Mr Camilleri was asked about the prime minister's decision by shadow minister for Gozo, Chris Said, when parliament convened later in the afternoon.

Mr Camilleri confirmed he had been given responsibility for the WBRU, but would not say why.

Dr Said described the move as a “strange” one saying it would have made more sense for responsibility to fall under the environment ministry.

Mr Camilleri said he was proud to shoulder the responsibility and said that unlike the Nationalist-led government, Labour never “betrayed” the hunting lobby.

“Our position to safeguard this tradition is very clear,” he said. 



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