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MaltaToday 10 November 2021 MIDWEEK

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4 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 10 NOVEMBER 2021 NEWS MATTHEW VELLA A derogation from the EU's ban on bird trapping in Malta has been dubbed a 'Trojan horse' by German conservationists CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter), who are monitoring the countryside in the autumn. CABS accused Gozo minister Clint Camilleri, under whose purview falls the Wild Birds Regulation Unit, of opening a new trapping season while the previous one was still facing an infringement proceeding from the European Commission. Malta is derogating from the EU ban by claiming the trapping season serves as a research study. CABS press officer Axel Hirschfeld said the Maltese countryside had been turned into "one giant bird trap", and that the Maltese government was trying to fool the EU and the public to protect the "selfish and anti-social activity of bird poaching." CABS teams reported a total of 51 cases of illegal trapping to the authorities in the last three weeks. The police have already confiscated over 238 finches and trapping equipment worth sev- eral thousands of euros. One man was caught trapping illegally 24 hours after he was convicted for the same offence. "As enforcement is very low this is just the tip of the iceberg," Hirschfeld said. "Whatever re- sults will emerge from this 're- search project', they will come at the cost of the lives and the free- dom of thousands wild birds." Hunting lobby FKNK yester- day labelled CABS and Birdlife Malta's "arrogant persecution, through espionage, provocation, violation of private property and arbitrary exercise of alleged rights to the serious detriment of trappers taking part in the re- search". FKNK also urged the govern- ment to protect trappers from CABS. CABS countered by saying that it will be extending its monitor- ing efforts until the end of the year "in the face of the chaotic situation in the field." CABS observers last Sunday revealed a massive illegal trap- ping complex surrounded by seven-foot-high razor wire fence and guard dogs within the lim- its of the Miżieb woodland – an area managed by the FKNK. The police were called and arrested a duo of poachers operating two sets of clap-nets and a large ver- tical mist net, which were seized by EPU. The mist net contained a freshly-caught robin which was liberated by EPU officers on site. CABS said the police neither confiscated the live decoys used for the mist-net nor did the of- ficers inspect the aviaries con- taining dozens of finches inside the fenced complex. "One of the two poachers is a participant of the government's 'study project' and tried to lead police officers by the nose by presenting paperwork from WBRU confirming that he is a 'government-approved scien- tist'. But as this 'licence' did not cover the site in question it was regarded as irrelevant and the police will press charges against him for trapping birds with an illegal mist-net which was set up nearby. "His trapping partner was caught operating the unregis- tered finch trapping site. The po- lice confirmed to CABS that the man is a notorious relapser, and has also been reported by CABS in 2016 and 2018 for which he was taken to court both times." Hirschfeld said this was just one of dozens of cases which prove that Miżieb was still a oaching hotspot. "We are ask- ing FKNK: How many cases of poaching have been reported by your organisation? How is it pos- sible that in an area frequented by hundreds of FKNK members none of them saw and reported these illegal traps? "We urge the government to stop the controversial trapping project and increase the mini- mum fines for illegal bird trap- ping determined in the law so they can serve as a genuine de- terrent." Maltese countryside 'one giant bird trap' as more poachers apprehended Hawfinch decoy illegal trapping (Photo: CABS) CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 He said he was particularly struck by the words of the Prime Minister of Bar- bados, who said that a 2 o C temperature increase would be a "death sentence" for various coastal nations. Malta too would be negatively affected, he said. While Malta has its own climate re- alities, Abela said that the Low Carbon Development Strategy, which allocated €200,000 for a climate fund, shows a clear commitment to reaching Europe- an targets. In fact, Malta pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 19% till 2030 and become carbon-neutral by 2050. "When we had high energy prices, we were utilising a highly polluting energy source, namely heavy fuel oil. Now, the largest polluting source is transport," Abela said. While energy prices are on the rise, Abela remarked that the local burden was not shifted onto citizens and busi- nesses. Grech referred to an open letter penned by sixth form students and sent to Maltese representatives at the UN Climate Change. In their letter, the stu- dents warned that only a radical com- mitment from world leaders can tackle climate change. "In invite them to turn their frustra- tion into concrete action to make poli- ticians and government take action be- fore it is too late," he said. The Opposition leader emphasised on a two-pronged approach to climate changed based on prevention and mit- igation. He said emissions need to be lowered across the board, making the move to cleaner energy all the more vital. For this, the Nationalist Party proposed having an advantageous rate for those investing in solar panels and electric ve- hicles. For mitigation, Grech said it is im- portant to prepare Malta and Gozo for increased heat and other impacts from climate change. He noted how a 1-2C increase in temperature will cause thousands of trees to die. "We need to start thinking about this," he said. Grech said it is worth looking to oth- er countries, such as the Netherlands, to learn from them on how to tackle the negative impacts of climate change such as rising sea levels. He also warned on water scarcity, and how it plays into food security. "With climate change, water is becoming as precious as gold. We invested €60 mil- lion in EU funds to recycle water. But we still waste too much water that can be used for farming." Grech criticised the Prime Minister as lacking credibility on the environment. "We enjoyed hearing you speak so con- fidently in Glasgow, but we couldn't take you seriously when climate is the last thing you think about in Malta." After Grech's speech, several Opposi- tion MPs asked the Prime Minister on the government's environmental tar- gets, including the 19% emissions target and free public transport initiative. Abela explained that the free transport scheme alone will not lower emissions immediately. However, it forms part of a wider environmental package to help reach other eco-targets. On the 19% emissions target, Abe- la made a clarification. The target will see Malta lower its emissions by 19% until 2030. However, MPs David Thake and Karl Gouder noted that this target is much lower than that of Malta's EU counterparts, some of which are aiming for a 60% reduction. Abela explained that there is an over- all emissions target for the entire Euro- pean bloc. To achieve this target, differ- ent member states have varied targets. "Our starting point is this: we are one of the countries with the lowest emissions per capita". Grech says Malta must prepare for climate change challenges

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