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Malta hunting quotas cannot be increased says EU Environment Commissioner

European Commissioner for the Environment Janez PotocnikMalta's spring hunting quotas set by the Malta Government last year are at the upper limit of what is acceptable and cannot be increased, according to Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for the Environment.

Speaking at a press conference during his two day stay in Malta, Potocnik stated that the European Court of Justice was clear in its decision on spring hunting in Malta and, while some spring hunting was allowed, this was only under strict conditions.

He was emphatic that there should be no increase in the quotas and said: "One cannot expect limits to be increased from year to year."

He added that the Commission considered the Malta Government's methodology and quotas as satisfactory. He confirmed that various reports were received from the hunters' associations and from some NGOs. These reports were being examined to see whether what had been stated regarding adequate enforcement was correct and whether the system in use was sufficiently reliable.

Max Farrugia of International Animal Rescue Malta observed that the EU Commission is adamant that there should be no increase in quotas and will not be moved on this point. He added that enforcement in Malta has improved but there is still a great deal to be done. Some hunters are still breaking the law and are detrimental to their fellow hunters. The Malta Government and the Administrative Law Enforcement Unit (ALE) within the Malta Police are doing their best to see that the law is being obeyed.

Last spring the quotas, which are also valid for this year, allowed 9,000 turtle doves and 2,500 quails to be shot at. The number of hunters who applied for a special licence was just over 5,500 out of an estimated 10,000 hunters who have a licence to hunt.

The hunters have to adhere to a set of conditions, including sending a text message with every kill.

During his stay in Malta Commissioner Potocnik had meetings with Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Environment Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco. Sources close to the Environment Parliamentary Secretariat said that hunting was one of the issues discussed during the meetings.