Il-Parlament u l-MEPA

24 ta’ Frar 2010

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Matul il-ġranet li ġejjin fil-Parlament se tibda d-diskus­sjoni dwar ir-riforma tal-MEPA.

Meta teżamina l-proposti li l-Gvern qiegħed jippreżenta biex jemenda l-liġi biex jagħti bidu għar-riforma tal-MEPA ssib li l-iktar affarijiet essenzjali huma neqsin. Dan ta’ bilfors iwassal għal mistoqsija, allura din x’riforma se tkun?

Jien dejjem sostnejt li għalkemm dejjem se jkun hemm x’tirranġa fil-MEPA, il-problema fundamentali mhumiex il-‘policies’ iżda min jinterpretahom. Jiġifieri kemm ikunu kapaċi jaqdu dmirhom il-membri li jinħatru fuq il-Bord u l-Kummissjonijiet tal-MEPA.

Għaġina

Mhux waħdi li smajt l-istejjer dwar x’ġara fil-passat, kemm riċenti kif ukoll imbiegħed. Ħafna minnhom huma pubbliċi. Uħud minnhom huma pruvabbli, oħrajn diffiċli ħafna li ssib il-provi dwarhom għax il-kobba mħabbla sew.

Il-punt dejjem hu jekk min jinħatar huwiex ta’ fibra. Sfortunatament dan mhux dejjem kien il-każ u għalhekk il-MEPA hi fl-istat li hi llum. Għax filwaqt li min inħatar mhux dejjem għaraf jirreżisti għall-pressjoni, sfortunatament kien hemm min inħatar apposta biex iservi ta’ ‘remote control’ għal ħaddieħor. F’dan il-każ il-kwalifika prinċipali tiegħu kienet li kien kapaċi jkun għaġina f’idejn ħadd­ieħor.

Il-funzjoni

X’inhi l-funzjoni tal-MEPA? Fil-fehma tiegħi l-MEPA għandha tkun il-garanti tal-komunità kollha li l-oqsma li għalihom hi responsabbli jitmexxew sew. Sfortunatament bosta drabi l-MEPA dehret kompliċi biex ikun hemm min tgħaddi tiegħu minkejja kollox. Il-messaġġ li ħareġ kien wieħed ċar ħafna, li minkejja l-formalitajiet u r-regoli kollha, id-deċiżjonijiet il-kbar u l-iktar iebsin, diversi drabi kellhom tiċpisa partiġ­ġjana. Jiġifieri iktar minn deċiżjonijiet li dwarhom kien hemm ġustifikazzjoni teknika ambjentali u ta’ ppjanar fl-użu tal-art, fejn kien hemm ġbid lejn il-politika tal-Gvern tal-ġurnata.

Hu dan li r-riforma teħtieġ li tindirizza u dan fil-fatt qiegħed jiġi injorat apposta, bi ħsieb.

Rieda tajba

Il-ħatra tal-membri tal-Bord tal-MEPA hi ta’ importanza fundamentali fl-eżerċizzju kollu li qiegħed isir.

Għax anke jekk nikkonċedi rieda tajba fil-proċess kollu tar-riforma, jekk din ir-rieda tajba tissarrafx jew le, se jiddependi minn bnedmin tad-demm u l-laħam li ma jkunux lesti li jitgħawġu. Kif se jsir dan?

Il-Parlament

Il-Bord tal-MEPA ma jistax jaħtar lilu nnifsu! Alternattiva Demokratika sa minn qabel l-elezzjoni tal-2008, kienet ipproponiet li l-Parlament għandu jkollu rwol ikbar fil-mod kif jintgħażlu n-nies li jmexxu l-MEPA. Il-Parlament għandu jiżviluppa rwol bħal dak tas-Senat Amerikan li jagħrbel u japprova ħatriet ta’ importanza nazzjonali, anke jekk in-nomini jibqgħu jsiru mill-Gvern tal-ġurnata. Naħsbu li l-Gvern m’għandux jaħtar bħala membri tal-Bord tal-MEPA persuni li dwarhom, il-Kumitat Magħżul tal-Parlament dwar l-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar ikollu diffikultà.

Id-diffikultà tista’ tkun kemm dwar kompetenza kif ukoll dwar sebgħa dritt.

Għandu jkun possibli li l-Parlament permezz tal-Kumitat Magħżul dwar l-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar jgħarbel fil-pubbliku lil dawk li jkunu se jinħatru. Hekk pereżempju jintgħażlu l-Ambax­xaturi kollha li taħtar l-Istati Uniti tal-Amerika, jinnominahom kollha l-President u jikkonfermahom is-Senat permezz ta’ wieħed mill-Kumitati tiegħu. Fl-Istati Uniti dan isir għall-ambaxxaturi kollha, anke għall-membri tal-Kabinett u għal uħud mill-organizzazzjonijiet tal-Istat Federali.

Jekk għandna nikkopjaw għandna nibdew nikkopjaw sistemi li ġew imfasslin apposta biex l-eżerċizzju tal-poter tal-ħatriet ikun imrażżan. Jekk min jaħtar jagħraf li ħatra importanti trid qabel ma sseħħ tgħaddi mill-passatur tal-opinjoni pubblika, jaħsibha darbtejn dwar min iressaq ’il quddiem. B’hekk forsi jkollna nies fit-tmexxija li jkunu aċċettabbli għal firxa iktar wiesa’ mill-popolazzjoni.

Dan hu rwol importanti li fil-fehma tal-Alternattiva Demokratika għandu jkollu l-Parlament ta’ Malta. Hu aktar importanti milli jibqa’ jaħtar żewġ membri minn tiegħu (kif jagħmel sal-lum) bħala membri tal-Bord tal-MEPA.

Naħseb li l-Membru Parlamentari m’għandux jinvolvi ruħu f’deċiżjoni dwar liema permess għandu joħroġ u liema għandu jinżamm. Iktar importanti li l-Membru Parlamentari jara li dawk li jinħatru jkunu kapaċi jimxu sew. Sfortunatament dan s’issa la sar u lanqas m’hemm il-ħsieb li jsir.

Iżda jekk dan isir, ir-riforma tkun tista’ tagħti l-frott. Jekk le, naħseb li se nibqgħu fejn aħna.

George Bonello Dupuis

 

Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party expressed its condolences to the Bonello Dupuis family after the passing away of former Minister George Bonello Dupuis.

Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson, said:’George Bonello Dupuis will be
remembered as an important Minister in times of change who never let power cut him off from common people. Bonello Dupuis will also be remembered for his down-to-earth character and his contribution to sports’.

sustainable ……but….. á la carte

published February 20, 2010 under the title :

“Sustainable ….. but …..in a way.”

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When the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Conference of the Parties meets in Doha next March it will consider a proposal that will mean that international trading of bluefin tuna will be banned.

The European Parliament, on February 10, approved a motion for a resolution, which, among other matters, urged the EU Commission and member states to support the ban on international trade in bluefin tuna in view of the depletion of natural stocks of this species.

A total of 320 MEPs voted in favour; 271 voted against. Four of the Maltese MEPs voted against the ban and the fifth, David Casa, was absent when voting took place.

The ban is being proposed as bluefin tuna is on the verge of extinction. It is being fished at a rate far above its natural regeneration. The Principality of Monaco stressed, when presenting its submissions justifying the ban back in July 2009, that coordinated intervention is long overdue.

The Principality of Monaco has argued that bluefin tuna stock in the Mediterranean has declined by more than 74 per cent between 1957 and 2007, the bulk of it in the last decade. Meanwhile, tuna stock in the west Atlantic has plunged by 83 per cent between 1970 and 2007.

The ban will affect industrial fishing and tuna ranching. It will not affect fishing for bluefin tuna for local consumption. It will, undoubtedly, affect large-scale fishing, including those operations based in Maltese waters. Lobbying on behalf of these operators and their Japanese partners has been very evident. The political positions taken by a number of Mediterranean countries, including Malta, is also clearly the result of lobbying by the industry, which has wide interests straddling opposite shores of the Mediterranean.

The Principality of Monaco in the draft resolution submitted to the CITES Secretariat for discussion during the Doha Conference of the Parties stated that, notwithstanding recommendations by the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) that tuna catches should not exceed 15,000t per annum, quotas far in excess of this recommendation were approved: 22,000t for 2009, 19,950t for 2010 and 18,500t for 2011.

The Principality of Monaco also emphasised that it is known that the international fishing fleet capacity is, at least, double that needed to catch the current legal quota, which fact leads to serious doubts on quota enforcement and the under-reporting of catches.

The average size of the bluefin tuna has been reduced substantially over the years from 220kg to 145kg as overfishing is not permitting tuna to develop to its mature size.

Japan, a major consumer, consumes 43,000t of bluefin tuna annually. Half of this is acquired from the Pacific Ocean, the rest from other parts of the world.

It is a known fact that quotas are widely ignored and only a ban on international trade will allow stocks to recover. This will take time to be achieved.

The international environmental NGO WWF, through its Mediterranean Programme, has since 2008 embarked on a programme aimed at saving the Mediterranean bluefin tuna from extinction. It has adopted a three-pronged approach, namely addressing fishing methods, consumer awareness and through lobbying national governments in order that they observe the agreed quotas. The programme is ongoing and it aims to improve the management measures recommended by scientists.

Opposition to the ban is short-sighted politics. It is myopic as it focuses on short-term economic gains and ignores the long-term social, economic and ecological impacts of the collapse of tuna stocks. The social impacts on families dependent on international trade in bluefin tuna have to be addressed through adequate social programmes as their livelihood is in peril due to its depending on an unsustainable activity. Opposition to the ban will not, however, do them any good as it will just postpone facing the music by not more than five years.

Malta has been one of the states resisting the international demand for an international trade ban on bluefin tuna. The Maltese government has opposed the call for such a ban in all fora. Even the opposition Labour Party has supported the PN-led government in defending the unsustainable fishing of bluefin tuna. Maltese MEPs have obliged by taking a stand against the ban.

Yet, both the PN and the PL in Malta speak in favour of sustainable development. Most probably they mean sustainable… but… á la carte, that is, speaking profusely about it but simultaneously proceeding with business as usual.

The Greens in Malta have been the only political voice in favour of sustainable fishing, in favour of protecting marine biodiversity as well as defending traditional fishing methods in opposition to the havoc generated by industrial fishing.

It is too late in the day to expect the government to be consistent. The Labour opposition is no better.

EP vote on tuna – a victory for our common interest

Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party said today that the European Parliament’s vote to ban international trading in tuna is a step in the right direction. Such a ban will help local fishermen who supply the local market since traditional fishing will still be permitted. It is a well known fact that the international trading in tuna, a natural resource, is wreaking havoc on this fish’s stock.

AD Chairperson Michael Briguglio said:’A ban on international trade in this species is inevitable.  Overfishing and tuna ranching resulting mainly from large scale fishing taking place over the years caused stocks of this fish to diminish drastically. This industry will survive for maybe another couple of years and then die for good if this ban is not introduced. It is a do or die situation.’

Maltese tuna exporters and ranchers are pressuring the government to fight such a ban. The government and PN and PL MEPs are giving in to the strong multimillion Euro lobby instead of joining the majority of the European Parliament and a majority of European Union countries to take the necessary steps to protect a natural resource and small local fishermen. Some groups in the European Parliament with a history of defending strong industrial lobbies’ interests and who boast of being the largest group, have done the same in the vote on the ban in international trading in tuna. They have defended the interests of strong lobbies instead of the common interest. Thankfully these groups were defeated and their amendment to render the ban ineffective was blocked. Michael Briguglio siad:’AD thanks the Green Group in the European Parliament which chose to defend our common interest and the small traditional fishermen who fish in a sustainable manner.’

Simon Galea, spokesperson on Animal Welfare and Agriculture added:’The ban in international trade in tuna is in the common interest of us all. Fishing can be reassumed once the stock numbers improve. On the other hand fishing will have to cease for good once the species is extinct. Resisting such a ban is attempting suicide. Stricter measures have to be introduced once the ban is lifted. New quotas for sustainable fishing plus better enforcement of such is essential in order to prevent history from repeating itself.’

It is about time the government of Malta joins those of Italy and France by supporting this ban.

Louis Galea should ensure fair electoral reform

Louis Galea should ensure fair electoral reform. Speaking about parliament’s select committee on electoral law reform, Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party said that it is disappointed at the fact that in one and a half years the only thing the select committee seems to have agreed upon with regards to the reform on the electoral system is to widen the threshold for expenditure by candidates at elections. Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson, asked:’Is this being done to ensure that PN and PL candidates who broke the law by exceeding expenditure limits, could come off scot free? We augur that Louis Galea will not be remembered for chairing a select committee that only managed to cover up for such candidates. We strongly urge Louis Galea to ensure that before he leaves for the Court of Auditors, the electoral law is changed so that the number of votes are reflected proportionately for all political parties as regards the number of seats, and not only for PL and PN, as the situation scandalously is at the moment’. In the meantime, a delegation of Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party, comprising Michael Briguglio, Ralph Cassar, Arnold Cassola and Carmel Cacopardo met Louis Galea last week to discuss issues relating to the select committee (electoral reform, regulating political party financing and broadcasting) as well as Dr Galea’s nomination to the EU Court of Auditors. As regards the reform of the electoral system Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party is proposing a double threshold, with a district quota of 16.6% that would allow an individual to be elected on her/his own steam, and a national quota with a threshold of 2 quotas for a party to be represented in parliament. This system is similar to that of highly developed democracies such as Germany. ‘AD is proposing a fair balance between democratic representation of voters and functional governance. We are for true proportional representation for all citizens, where each and every vote counts the same. Unlike PN and PL which work as a duopoly that excludes others from the electoral process, AD is putting forward responsible proposals’, added Briguglio AD’s proposals can be read at:

http://www.alternattiva.org.mt/filebank/documents/sistemaelettorali.PDF

Malta Freeport :Impacts on residents should be dealt with effectively

AD supports Birzebbuga Local Council in its actions to protect residents from the further deterioration of their quality of life.

Michael Briguglio AD Chairperson stated that the activities of the Freeport should not be further increased until such time that the present impacts on the residents are dealt with effectively. It is for this specific purpose that AD through its spokesperson for Sustainable Development  Carmel Cacopardo had proposed the need for an Environmental Management System to be adopted by the Freeport Terminal way back in February 2009 when MEPA was considering the development applications.

Carmel Cacopardo AD spokesperson on Sustainable Development and Local Government pointed out that MEPA has started meeting with the Freeport Terminal representatives in order to identify the environmental issues to be tackled. It is shameful, he added, that MEPA has not felt the need to involve the Birzebbuga Local Council in these crucial talks.

Carmel Cacopardo concluded by inviting Dr Gonzi as the Minister responsible for both the Environment and Local Councils to ensure that MEPA lives up to its obligations and involves the Birzebbuga Local Council in these meetings.