By Constantinos Psillides
Parliamentary Environment Committee chairman, AKEL’s Adamos Adamou is calling on the government to table the strategic plan for bird conservation before requesting derogations from the EU for selective hunting of blackcaps (ambelopoulia).
“We want to see this plan for ourselves. Whatever information we have we got from the media. We want the opportunity to voice an informed opinion on the subject before the wheels are set in motion,” Adamos told the Cyprus Mail.
On May 13 the cabinet approved a long awaited strategic plan to tackle the systematic, large-scale poaching of birds on the island but with a last-minute twist that enraged conservationists.
The plan included a provision for the “selective” hunting of blackcaps as a means to curb rampant poaching using mist nets and limesticks.
The government planned to file a request with the EU, citing tradition so that Cypriots could be allowed an exemption from the EU directive that strictly forbids the hunting of birds.
The plan’s authors claim that allowing for the selective hunting of blackcaps will discourage poaching. Environmentalists, like former Enviroment Commissioner Charalambos Theopemptou, believe that it will only serve to allow restaurants that server ambelopoulia a free pass as they would be able to claim they shot the birds under the selective hunting provision.
Adamou said he could not speak for his party, AKEL, but he stressed that his take on the subject was clear. “This suggestion is ridiculous. I am strongly against it and will not support any proposal that comes before the committee,” Adamou told the Cyprus Mail.
Adamou’s dismissal of the government proposal is also shared by DIKO. An official with the party confirmed a statement made by deputy spokesman Athos Antoniades to daily Politis on Monday, saying that the party was unequivocally against any form of bird hunting. “This is not the first time selective hunting was brought on the table. As far as DIKO is concerned, bird hunting by any means is forbidden as per an EU directive. Therefore, any discussion is pointless,” he said.
Representatives from AKEL and governing DISY, the party with the strongest presence in the Famagusta district, where most poaching is carried out, stated that they were reserving judgement until they studied the strategic plan in its entirety.
While AKEL MPs have stayed away from the subject, DISY Famagusta MP Evgenios Hamboullas was amongst its staunchest supporters.
Socialist EDEK went a step further. The party is not only in support of selective hunting, but wants the practice of using limesticks legalised in cases where bird hunting in instances “such as in the case of farmers wanting to protect their crops from birds, since hunting with limesticks has been a method for dealing with bird troubles for years,” said the party.
A source close to another Famagusta MP told the Cyprus Mail that the plan was only for show. “Ask anyone, anyone outside the Famagusta district to tell what they think of this plan. Everyone is against it and rightly so because it’s ridiculous. But Famagusta MPs have to deal with great pressure from people who make their living off bird trapping, so they either side with poachers or at the very least refrain from speaking against them,” the source said.
Adamou told the Cyprus Mail that while he has received no official reply to his request that the government plan be brought to the House for discussion, he is willing to hold an extraordinary meeting the moment the plan is sent.