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Maltese hunters detained after sea chase

Speedboat donated by IAR to help Malta police combat illegal huntingFour illegal hunters have been detained by police in Malta after a lengthy high speed sea chase.

The men in a speedboat were first seen behaving very suspiciously on the western side of the island of Gozo. They were spotted by members of the Maritime Squadron’s Rapid Deployment Team who were on a routine patrol to combat illegal hunting. The team works hand in hand on this issue with the Administrative Law Enforcement (wildlife) police.

As the armed forces personnel approached the vessel it fled at high speed and the team gave chase in their interceptor craft. Despite a moderate force three north westerly swell and the suspects’ 225 horse-power engine, the squad managed to catch them after a hair-raising 30 minute chase that ended off Dingli cliffs in Malta.

All four suspects were detained until they were handed over to the police and arrested. When they searched the boat the police found several items of hunting equipment. The hunters had been seen ditching a number of items overboard during the chase, some of which were also later recovered.

The boat, the hunting equipment and all the items recovered from the sea are in the possession of the police and the men are currently being held for questioning.

Following the dispute with the EU and the recent court action against Malta, the season hasn’t been declared open and the hunters’ presence and their equipment was illegal.

The Hunting Federation failed to condemn the shooters. However, IAR’s Max Farrugia said he was pleased to see evidence that the government is stepping up enforcement against hunters both on land and at sea.