Just over a week ago, I briefly wrote about why I would be voting NO in the upcoming referendum on spring hunting being held in Malta this weekend. Closer to the day and with the discussion and debates proliferating, I feel the time has come for me to be more eloquent on this matter.
First off, I must declare that I used to work for BirdLife Malta so clearly, there is no way I could possibly consider voting in favour of retaining spring hunting (unless I exist in some parallel universe that only the likes of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams could have dreamed up, that is!)
But really, this goes way beyond that. If anything, my time at BirdLife allows me to have more information and be able to vote with my head and not my heart. Yes, my heart, because really, ever since I was a little kid out walking in the countryside with my parents and sibling and a hunter pointed his gun straight at the face of my 5-year old brother who had begged him not to shoot that bird, yes, ever since that day my heart has been pretty decided on being against hunting, or more correctly, against the intimidating bullies that are the hunting cohort in Malta.
Back to BirdLife – this is where I learnt all about the difference of the spring and autumn migratory season, of how crucial the spring season is for the mating of birds, therefore how illogical it is to shoot at birds in this very period when this means decimating the future population of birds that would in turn then migrate again come September. I found out about the Carnet de Chasse and what a joke it is locally, with no authorities having any way of overseeing it and of assuring that it is being faithfully filled in. Indeed, it isn’t.
And let’s be clear here – the EU does NOT permit spring hunting. Rather, it allows for an exception to the rule against spring hunting if and ONLY IF certain conditions are met and, above all, there is no satisfactory alternative. Malta has not managed to obtain this derogation – indeed, on September 10, 2009, the European Court of Justice ruled that by allowing spring hunting in 2004-2007 Malta had failed to comply with the conditions for a derogation and, accordingly, failed to fulfill its obligations under the Directive.
These are the only two arguments that are necessary from a logical point of view for it to be unequivocally clear that the vote on Saturday needs to be no.
But let’s look at other arguments which simply add strength to the two principle ones I’ve outlined above. They are not the reason why the referendum was called, indeed, they are not why you should be voting, but they sure add fuel to the fire:
- How great is it that the Maltese (yes, Maltese, foreigners couldn’t sign the petition) felt so strongly about an issue that they forced the government to call a referendum as is our right as enshrined in the constitution? This is democracy at work, this alone should make you go out to vote (whatever your creed) on Saturday.
- Make no mistake – the instances of illegal hunting, i.e. poaching, are NOT far and few between. They are widespread. And I have personally witnessed this with my own two eyes. So if the vote on Saturday which is there to stop ‘legal’ hunting in spring also protects protected species from getting hunted, that’s even better in my books.
- I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again, the majority of hunters are bullies, they have a gun in their hands and this alone seems to give them the right to threaten, swear at, hit out at, fire at anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Oh and they also like to put these up.
4. Lastly, a campaign that fails to front its true protagonists, i.e. these:
and instead tries to hoodwink the population by putting forward preppy, up and coming youth, i.e. this:
fronted by a female (clever move) lawyer who has never held a gun in her life, has
proved to me beyond a shadow of doubt confirmed that they just cannot be trusted.
And now… for some humour.