The FKNK will not receive any monetary compensation for its management Mizieb and L-Ahrax tal-Mellieha, Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg told the press today.
It was recently discovered that the controversial agreement which would see the Federation for Hunting and Trapping (FKNK) take over the management of the aforementioned two areas will be signed on Sunday. Both the government and the FKNK faced serious backlash from eNGOs and civil society expressed concern over the situation. A petition was launched by a collation of 60 eNGOs, Spazzji Miftuħa, back in May and has received over 17,000 signatures until today. Even the Consumer’s Rights Association had urged the government to rethink the agreement.
Minister Borg was asked why such large tracts of land were going to be given to the hunting federation FKNK for management.
Borg said that the government receives a lot of requests. “Right now the government is discussing land and property with the FKNK, BirdLife Malta, Din L-Art Helwa, Ramblers and a number of other NGOs. Every entity has their own scope. In the case of other entities that are asking for more land and property, in the FKNK’s case it was to formalise what they always did.” He said that the hunters have been taking care of the area since the 80s as it was “trusted to them” back then.
“The direction we gave as the government was that the zones must be accessible to the public as they are today. So from that aspect nothing will change. Obviously as happens today as well, while hunters are hunting, families today cannot enter and this will be the same even after the agreement. So basically, what has been there since the 80s is being formalised. I want to thank them for the work they have done over the years.”
He said that we will also have positive news for other entities asking to expand their reserves, and for those who want historical sites.
He was asked for information as to what is in the agreement, and whether it will involve any monetary exchange between the government and the FKNK. He said that other NGOs take tens of thousands of euros and said that the FKNK will not take any money.
He was asked what the government means by saying that the FNK will be responsible for the ‘management’ of Ahrax and Mizieb.
He said that hunters over the years took care of the trees. He said that one must care for trees, remove weeds, water them etc. “This is also management.” He spoke about keeping rubble walls standing as another example. He said that ERA will come into it to regulate how they will manage it.
Asked why the FKNK was chosen specifically and not another organisation, Minister Ian Borg said that in the 80s the FKNK was chosen and “they did a good job.”
Told whether this means that there was a contract in the 80s which was legally binding and is in effect until today, the minister said that there is a letter by former Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici “that one needs to formalise, even as it did not include certain obligations such as letting families enter, although they always were still allowed to do so.”
He said that the agreement will see ERA ensure that management is handled properly. He said that the agreement will be made public when signed.
Video: Giuseppe Attard