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PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR TRANSPORT, INFRASTRUCTURE AND CAPITAL PROJECTS, THE MINISTRY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, PLANNING AND CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE MINISTRY FOR GOZO

Reference Number: PR201943en, Press Release Issue Date: Oct 09, 2020
Miżieb and Aħrax picnic areas will remain completely open to the public, with management and cleanliness upkeep obligations.
​Miżieb and Aħrax picnic areas will remain completely open to the public, with management and cleanliness upkeep obligations for FKNK 
 
Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg, Minister for the Environment, Planning and Climate Change Aaron Farrugia, Minister for Gozo Clint Camilleri, and Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and Construction Chris Agius presided over the signing of two agreements between the Lands Authority and FKNK and the Environmental Resources Authority and FKNK. This follows a collective decision by the Cabinet of Ministers and the approval of the Lands Authority Board of Governors. These agreements introduce a number of obligations for the management of Miżieb and Aħrax land for FKNK while permitting access to the public.
 
Introduced obligations include maintenance, upkeep of cleanliness and general upkeep of the sites, health and safety on the sites and clear signage. This is especially important as the coastal perimeter will remain the public domain and sites must remain accessible to the public, while parts designated for hunting must also remain accessible, excluding during fixed hours which are clearly displayed during the hunting season. FKNK will also be obligated to designate dedicated picnic areas and camping sites for the public, and full access will be given to conservation officials to ensure that the law is observed and to guard against any abuse or illegal hunting, while a joint monitoring board will be created, including local council representatives, to ensure that obligations are fully met.
 
Minister Ian Borg said, “We are looking to consolidate things well. We are giving access and a dedicated space to those who practise hunting, like we see in several other countries around the world with dedicated spaces during their season. But this is also being done with a number of responsibilities and obligations, because we believe that the natural environment is at the heart of Maltese and Gozitan family life. We therefore want to ensure the protection of the public domain, and that we have accessible and well-kept spaces to further aid the improvement of quality of life for people while also making space for the practice of a popular pastime to this NGO.”
 
Minister Aaron Farrugia said that it is within everyone’s interest to ensure the proper management and protection of all the natural sites in our country. “Our role as a ministry, together with ERA, is to ensure that the organisation safeguards the natural environment within the sites in the agreement. This is being done through a number of obligations that the ministry and ERA is placing in the agreement, also through the authority’s directorate which is tasked with enforcement. Following the government’s decision to formalise the agreement through which the two zones are formally designated to the responsibility of the administration of FKNK, the ministry, together with ERA, through its own initiative pushed forward an additional agreement which will ensure proper administration of the sites, implementation of a number of environmental measures, monitoring and enforcement patrolling, educational activities, and the adequate involvement of stakeholders. The agreement is also ensuring that that all public passageways and thoroughfares remain open to the public at all times,” Minister Farrugia said.
 
Minister Clint Camilleri, who is also responsible for the hunting and trapping sector, said that the government continuously works to safeguard the hunting and trapping tradition. He said that hunters and trappers know where they stand with this government because it never tried to fool them. Camilleri said that with these agreements, FKNK are also ensuring that they will take care of the place and that public paths remain open to the public.
 
Parliamentary Secretary Chris Agius added that thanks to these agreements, these lands will be organised so that while FKNK may practise hunting, they will be bound to maintain and carry out upkeep for these sites. He stressed that these sites will remain accessible to the public, except during specific hours during the season as was always the case. The difference is that the formal agreement will lead to more specific signage, protection and obligatory maintenance by the same organisation.
 
The agreements are attached to this press release.