MPs on Wednesday accused the game and fauna service of fixing the public consultation over controversial provisions of its proposed legislation to amend hunting regulations.
Following a meeting of the House environment committee, MPs announced that the discussion on the amendment on the protection and management of wild birds and game was postponed for two weeks so that the game and fauna service can consult fully with all stakeholders.
The EU has directed that hunting legislation must be amended in a bid to tackle poaching, with Cyprus facing fines from the European Commission if laws are not updated.
But the proposed legislation is proving controversial after it emerged that it also contained a provision for granting learners’ hunting licences to teenagers. That has since been temporarily withdrawn as, according to committee chairman, Adamos Adamou the bill must be approved on time to avoid the fines.
Greens MP Charalambos Theopemptou said that even though there are provisions for learners’ hunting licences in other countries, they call for strict supervision.
“There are serious limitations on the number of hunters, there are serious penalties. Law enforcement is strict,” he said.
But the provision on teenage hunters is not the only controversial issue. The bill also provides for falconry licences for €250, and the use of fake game or electronic devices producing bird sounds to ease the hunting of a number of species. Other provisions allow the creation of places to train dogs with live game, although “the trained dog should not come in direct contact with the animals”.
The Animal Party has called on the government to withdraw the bill altogether as they are also concerned that proposed bill gives the game and fauna service and the police the authority to issue fines to hunters breaking the law. This, the party said, would mean that poachers would not be reported for their offences, nor appear before court.
At Wednesday’s discussion it became clear that no proper public consultation on the proposed bill had taken place, Adamou said. Some relevant non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had not been informed at all.
Theopemptou said that the game and fauna service had only invited various services and NGOs that agree with it, and considered that this was a public consultation.
There was no real consultation, he said, and the government ought to follow the proper, legal procedures.
“We must not turn a blind eye to a service which believes that this way it will be able to promote several issues it wants,” he said.
Adamou said that the proposed bill amendment provides for the doubling and tripling of penalties, as today they are not prohibitive.
“One of the issues I think we should review is the game and fauna service itself, how it works, how it is financed, how decisions are made, etc.,” Theopemptou said.
The Animal Party too criticised the service.
“These bills will have to be withdrawn by the government because they are legitimising illegality,” the party said.
In another announcement, Friends of the Earth said that the game and fauna service behaves in a way to accommodate hunters. The service “systematically neglects its obligations regarding the implementation of environmental legislation.”
The proposed bill can be found here (Greek only): http://www.moi.gov.cy/moi/Wildlife/wildlife_new.nsf/All/5EC66EBAB12E36C8C2257FE1002F22FE?OpenDocument