Hunting minister satisfied that only two of over 90 wetlands protected from lead shot poisoning

Gozo and Hunting Minister Clint Camilleri is claiming that a recently introduced EU ban on lead shot has been fulfilled and that all the country’s wetland areas are already protected, despite the fact that only two of more than 90 identifiable wetland areas are being safeguarded.

The EU ban called for national legislation to mirror the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands’s definition of wetland sites, with Malta submitting only two sites to the convention’s register, last updated in 1996.

Camilleri, in an answer to a  recent parliamentary question tabled by opposition MP Janice Chetcuti, argued that since the two registered sites are bird sanctuaries, which prohibit hunting altogether, the EU ban has been fulfilled.

BirdLife Head of Conservation Nicholas Barbara said Camilleri’s inaction is “not a surprise”. He said BirdLife is “accustomed to seeing the Ministry for Gozo issuing regulations in favour of allowing more hunting (and trapping) as opposed to the protection of land and avifauna.”

“A lot could have been proposed and done if Minister Camilleri wanted to ensure wetlands do not get contaminated,” Barbara said while specifically mentioning, “establishing buffer areas and promoting alternatives to the use of lead shot” as the most obvious measures.

The new EU law was signed in 2021 and came into effect on 15 February following a two-year grace period in which signatory countries were to prepare legislation to implement the ban.

The lead ammunition was polluting Europe’s wetland areas with between 4,000 and 5,000 tonnes of lead annually. This led to the poisoning of waterbirds, along with the poisoning of any other animals which ingest the waterfowl as prey.

Barbara noted that, “It seems the sale of lead shot is an economic activity which is supported by politicians in Malta” given “the various politicians who are sponsoring shooting events.”

Under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, which Malta has been party to since 1989, all valleys, water catchments as well as Malta’s entire coastline would fall under the definition of ‘wetlands’. According to Nature Trust Malta and the Foundation for Environmental Education, this would include more than 90 distinct sites across Malta and Gozo.

The two sites, Għadira and is-Simar were registered with the Ramsar convention in 1988 and 1996. Għadira was declared a bird sanctuary in 1978 with is-Simar receiving the same protection in 2006. Popular wetland areas such as Salini, Wied il-Qlejgħa (Chadwick Lakes), and Għajn Riħana are not included.

Owing to Malta’s small size, the abundance of areas considered to be wetlands, as well the 100-metre buffer required around each area, BirdLife Malta has called for lead shot to be banned across the whole country.

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2 months ago

Camilleri is the kind of moron who does so good in being completely out of his depth as a politician, but then being a moron is perfect qualifications for the MLP

2 months ago

Has anyone noticed all the hunting hides dotted around this so called reserve.

Ġwanni Fenek
Ġwanni Fenek
2 months ago

L-inazzjoni tal-buffu Clint Camilleri turi biċ-ċar l-egoiżmu fundamentali tal-kaċċaturi.

2 months ago

It is obvious that the Minister has no brains and does not know how to work out a percentage , except unless it is a commission.

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