BirdLife Cyprus expressed serious concerns and opposition to most of the amendments to the hunting law proposed by the Game and Fauna Service, and urged the House to vote against it on Friday.
The NGO stressed that the proposed bill would introduce a series of relaxations and loopholes to existing legislation and make enforcement ineffective.
“There are basically three things that we oppose,” Natalie Stylianou, a spokeswoman for BirdLife Cyprus said on Thursday.
“The first is the introduction of an on-the-spot fine regulation for all offences, which would ensure that people will not have to go to court for committing a crime, something that they have to do now.”
BirdLife Cyprus said in a statement they are concerned that game wardens would not issue on-the-spot fines for high sums that could top €2,000. The two trade union organisations for game wardens, PEO and SEK, submitted a joint letter to Parliament on October 20, 2016 expressing deep concern about the amendment, on the grounds that it will affect the undertaking of their duties and above all their safety.
Much of the illegal bird trapping is well organised, and conservationists have often been threatened or had their property damaged in the past when combatting the phenomenon.
The second problematic point is the suggestion that people will be allowed to consume in restaurants pre-cooked meat they have hunted themselves. The law wants to provide that hunters can consume what they themselves shoot in a concession to those who say hunting is a tradition in some areas of the island. “How is this going to be controlled?” Stylianou asked, “who can know where it was hunted and cooked? Even worse, the EU is already against serving illegally hunted birds in restaurants. This law is a move in the opposite direction.”
The third issue is a proposal to charge persons who have less than 72 lime sticks – branches covered with sticky sap to trap birds – just €200, while they now have to go to court. This, according to BirdLife Cyprus, will send an indirect message that it is not a serious crime.
“We believe that the proposals included in the proposed law amendment are in breach of the Birds Directive (2009/147/EC), and very likely put Cyprus at risk of being referred to the EU Court for non-compliance with the directive and the imposition of penalties,” BirdLife said, adding that what was needed was the strict implementation of the existing legislation and the demonstration of clear political will to seriously combat poaching and illegal bird trapping, which constitute an ecological disaster while at the same time creating a very negative image for Cyprus. We must not forget the thousands of nature lovers who would like to visit our island, but choose different destinations due to the serious problem of illegal bird trapping.”