Shout - the ‘No’ to spring hunting referendum campaign was launched this afternoon by the Campaign for the Abolition of Spring Hunting.

The campaign is entitled Sping Hunting Out (Shout) and will be mainly based on providing information through a number of spokespersons who will include Moira Delia, Renzo Spiteri, Joe Mangion, Frank Zammit, Carina Camilleri, Seb Tanti Burlo, Iggy Fenech, Nick Morales and Saviour Balzan. More people will be added as the campaign progresses.

Mr Mangion, a former Birdlife president, said this was a historic moment for Malta. The Maltese had been unhappy with the situation of spring hunting and they got together in a bid to abolish spring hunting for the good of birds and the countryside.

Birds were beautiful flying free and Malta was the only EU country where spring hunting was allowed.

Spring was a time for bird migration and it was not justified to be killing them during this period especially since hunters had another five-month season in autumn during which to enjoy their hobby.

The referendum was not intended to abolish the hunting hobby but spring was the birds’ last chance before they reached their breeding ground, he stressed.

“Let’s conserve nature and not kill species as they are trying to procreate... The countryside is more beautiful with song birds singing as we have witnessed when the season was closed.

“People have a right to enjoy the countryside in spring without worrying that they may be hit by a pellet or thrown out... Let’s not be intimidated to vote no,” he said.

Mr Mangion added that the people had trusted politicians but they did not deliver. It was now time for the people to speak out, irrespective of their political colour. They had to be encouraged to get out and exert their democratic right to vote.

Mr Balzan said bird lovers had been intimidated for years for expressing their opinion and wanting to enjoy bird life in the countryside.

“We have to do what our politicians have been too scared to do and vote no to abolish a law which politicians do not want to abrogate.”

He said that whoever argued that this would be targeting minorities’ hobbies was speaking nonsense and should highlight which other laws could be abrogated for this to be done.

He acknowledged that it would not be easy to get people to go out to vote but said they had to be encouraged to do so.

Asked whether he believed people would vote in line with their political parties, he said parties were not giving direction and although there would be people who would vote in the same way as their leader, time had shown that people were not blind.

He said it was very positive that the local newspapers in English had come together to support the no to spring hunting campaign.

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