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Malta referendum on spring hunting to be held on 11 April

The Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Joseph Muscat, has announced that a referendum on spring hunting will be held on 11 April. The chosen date has to be within three months of the Constitutional Court’s decision.  

While insisting that the will of the people will be respected, the Prime Minister has reiterated his stand in favour of Malta’s right to derogate from the Birds Directive, which outlaws hunting in spring. 

Dr Muscat said his position was clear: “I will be voting to retain the right for the Maltese government to derogate and open spring hunting. This forms part of our electoral mandate. Everyone is at liberty to decide what they want, even in my parliamentary group, and I will be respecting the people’s choice. I will not act for the gallery: my position is already well known. The lead should be taken by the civil society and not by the political parties.” 

Muscat said he hoped for a tranquil debate and, while admitting his position was not a popular one, he wanted to act according to his beliefs. 

“If the referendum passes and spring hunting is abolished, the spring hunting season will not open,” he said. 

A week of the campaign will coincide with Easter week and Dr Muscat is urging the parties not to hold any campaigns during that week. 

“I hope that interested parties also take the common sense stand when it comes to campaigning during Easter week,” he said. 

Dr Muscat said the debate should be dominated by the protagonists but as leader of the government he should be in a position to express himself. He also said that the campaign should be led by the movements representing hunters and conservationists. 

From what the prime Minister said at the press conference the inference was that the Labour Party will be supporting the hunters in the campaign regarding spring hunting.  

Max Farrugia, Chairman of IAR Malta, commented: “This is a huge step in the direction of ending spring hunting in Malta. We will be urging the many members of the public who are opposed to it to seize this chance to put a stop to it.”