The Malta Independent 25 September 2020, Friday

Updated: Argument between FKNK and anti-hunting lobby erupts over Mizieb land

Kevin Schembri Orland Saturday, 14 February 2015, 09:31 Last update: about 7 years ago

An argument over the use of Mizieb by the FKNK broke out between the hunting lobby and the anti-hunting lobby.

During a press conference held at Mizieb, the FKNK said that Mizieb was given to the FKNK by government in 1986 as a hunters reserve. FKNK spokesperson Romina Cuschieri explained that "through this agreement, the FKNK has the right to use the reserve during the hunting season, keep the area clean and maintain it. It must also keep the area accessible to the public when it is not hunting season".

She argued that this was confirmed through a Department of Information release on 11 April 1986. “On 3 October 1989, the government confirmed the title of possession by the FKNK and on 20 October that same year, the Director of Lands again confirmed the 1986 agreement. This was again re-confirmed in May 2010 and February 2011”.

In a statement reacting to the FKNK press conference, Spring Hunting Out (Shout) campaigners insisted that the hunters have never been able to produce a formal agreement for their use of the land at Miżieb, and that they occupy it solely for their selfish pursuit of bird hunting.

Responding to FKNK claims that the land at Miżieb was 'entrusted' to the hunters’ federation, SHout representatives said that the FKNK have never produced a lease to demonstrate that the government has formally handed over management of the land to themWhereas nature reserves managed by NGOs such as BirdLife Malta, Gaia, Nature Trust etc on behalf of the government, must have legal agreements in place and all follow a strict framework for the work they carry out on the land

Romina Tolu, SHout campaign coordinator said "As well as not showing a formal agreement for their use of the land at Miżieb, the hunters actively try to exclude the public from enjoying it by placing 'no entry' signs. They don't want people to see what really goes on in there when the media aren't looking."

"Voting no on 11 April will transform this publicly owned land from hunting hotspot in spring to a living woodland where birds can rest, nest and where the public can enjoy a peaceful walk or picnic at the best time of year" she added.

Aren’t we also part of the general public - FKNK

The FKNK, during their press conference, said that last week the anti-Spring Hunting lobby held a press conference stating that if spring hunting would be stopped, the Mizieb reserve would be given back to the public. In response, the FKNK posed a rhetorical question, “aren't we also part of the general public?”

FKNK spokesperson Romina Cuschieri argued that when the land arrived in FKNK’s hands, it was in a disastrous state, with damaged rubble walls, long weeds etc.  “The FKNK worked to restore the land and improve the land here,” she said.

Mrs Cuscheri added that the government also helped, donating benches and tables for the picnic area, trees to plant, as well as other things. These benches, however, have been stolen, she said.

“Birdlife Malta and their friends never accepted this place as a hunting reserve managed by the FKNK. This is why over the years they have tried to add on this land to the large areas they already own, much of which the general public cannot freely enter and must pay a fee to visit as large parts have boundary walls and lockable gates.”

Turning to hunting on Natura 2000 sites, the FKNK argues that such hunting is allowed. Referring to the anti-hunting lobby, Mrs Cuschieri said that “they are giving false information to the public, when they are incorrectly saying that hunting is not allowed on Natura 2000 sites. Hunting and trapping are acceptable tools to manage and conserve biodiversity, even on Natura 2000 sites”.

“These extremists are often influenced by foreigners who come to our shores. We welcome foreigners however we can never accept them telling us what to do. We expect them to respect our traditions, culture and the way we live. We respect their traditions when travelling to their country”.

The FKNK will be holding an event later this year, where families can come along to view the park and feast on hunted game.

When asked about some people’s concern over alleged declining quail and turtle dove populations, the FKNK said that this is not true and that hunting in Malta took less than 0.1% of these, thereby giving Malta it’s derogation.

Asked about the 200 dead birds found on site in 2009, which included some protected birds, an FKNK official told this newsroom that an FKNK internal inquiry took place, and that the dead protected birds found in Mizieb were not killed there.

The FKNK were voluntarily cleaning up Mizieb from rubbish, an event that occurs every weekend according to one of the hunters said. He added that they have seen members of the public illegally barbequing on this land and that some of the garbage cans had caught fire from hot coals. 

Mizieb is around 200 tumoli and around 325 FKNK hunters hunt in the area. Asked about the FKNK's stand on the referendum, they said that they will be given direction at a later date. 

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