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Reference Number: PR140638, Press Release Issue Date: Mar 28, 2014
Government appeals to NGOs to endorse Joint Communiqué.
Government has today published Conservation of Wild Birds (Amendment) Regulations (Legal Notice 110 of 2014), which increases penalties for illegal shooting or taking of protected birds ten-fold. As from today, anyone convicted of any shooting or trapping of protected species listed in Schedules I and IX of these Regulations, but excluding those listed as “huntable species” in Schedule II, even in the case of a first time offence, will automatically incur penalty comprising of €5,000 fine, and / or imprisonment for one year, as well as permanent revocation or ban on obtaining a hunting or trapping license, and confiscation of corpus delicti. In case of second or subsequent offence, the applicable penalty will go up to €10,000, confiscation, and / or imprisonment for two years.  
Commenting upon the entry into force of these regulations, Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes said that 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. “These harsher penalties are definitely expected to have a huge effect on overall enforcement situation. But legal deterrent alone would not be enough. Increase in penalties forms part of a broader package of measures that would, collectively, help to stamp out illegal targeting of highly protected birds. This is why we are collaborating closely with the police and other law enforcement authorities to further improve field surveillance and enforcement. We shall also, in the coming months, initiate a comprehensive drive to crack down on illegal taxidermy and trade in protected wild birds, which are amongst the main motives behind poaching. But 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”, said Roderick Galdes.
“Unfortunately, for far too long, the sector was defined by extreme polarization and division amongst hunting organizations and other conservation NGOs, and the resulting social tension. It is this polarization and divisiveness that are amongst the main root causes of the problems we are facing today, and possibly the main reason why progress has been slow and often convoluted. It is clear that this situation should not be allowed to persist any longer. This is why 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 publically express our common resolve to eradicate illegal taking and trade in wild birds in Malta by endorsing and signing up to the Joint Communiqué. This is a symbolic measure, but in today’s world, symbols are an important part of reality. Adhering to these shared goals would signify our resolve to promote unity in the place of division, and to forge strength in the place of weakness”, Roderick Galdes said.     
CLICK HERE for “Joint Communiqué on our common resolve to eradicate illegal taking and trade in wild birds in Malta”.The Parliamentary Secretariat for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights invites all interested NGOs to sign up to this initiative.