Poaching, illegal bird trapping, violation of environmental and social justice. These are apparently being promoted by specific Members of the Parliament with a series of proposals for further relaxations to the bird protection law in order to satisfy a section of the hunting community and the bird trappers.
While the primary goal of any proposals related to bird legislation should have the protection of wild birds as first priority, these proposals do anything but that. The specific proposals, which will be discussed in a closed session at the Parliamentary Committee of the Environment tomorrow, Wednesday 8 November, completely disregard the European legislation and bring Cyprus a step closer to sanctions being imposed by the European Commission.
The specific proposals brought forth by Members of the Parliament are the result of recent pressures from a section of the hunting community and the bird trappers. In particular, they propose, amongst others:
- The reduction of the on-spot-fines to ONLY €200 for the offence of illegal possession of specific protected species, including Blackcap, Bee-eater, Robin etc., which have been illegally killed with legal methods e.g. shooting, or with illegal methods such as limesticks, hence promoting the illegal killing of these protected migratory species.
- To turn into an ‘offence’ any hindrance of the undertaking of legal hunting activity, thus giving the hunters the opportunity to report other individuals with the excuse that they are interfering with their hunting activity ‘on purpose’.
- The possibility of granting licenses for the training of hunting dogs between March and May, causing great disturbance to birds during their nesting period.
- Legalization of the possession of game throughout the whole year (instead of for a limited time period after the end of the hunting season), thus promoting and enabling poaching.
- The possibility to settle payment of the on-the-spot fines of over €1000 in instalments, thereby limiting and weakening the deterrent nature of on-the-spot fines.
‘These are the worst law proposals that we have ever seen for discussion at the Parliament in relation to the Law for the protection and management of wild birds’, said Tassos Shialis, Campaigns Coordinator of BirdLife Cyprus. ‘The Members of Parliament, instead of submitting law proposals that ensure the protection and management of birds, are promoting law proposals in closed sessions that encourage poaching and illegal bird trapping and violate environmental justice. We hope that the general public will awaken and express its opposition towards these disastrous proposals’, concluded Shialis.
‘We are becoming witnesses to another absurdity with regards to nature protection, with law proposals that do not restrict hunting and do not promote deterrent penalties related to illegal activities. Never in any other country is the access to nature “policed” by hunters who could claim that the general public that is outdoors enjoying nature is hindering hunting activity and affecting the game. Nature is OUR right’, said Natasa Ioannou, Programs Manager, Friends of the Earth Cyprus.