Despite an extremely successful voluntary moratorium on the shooting of Greenland White-fronted Geese (GWfG) being in place since the 1970’s, the Welsh Government have folded under pressure to remove the species from the quarry list in Wales. The change will have no impact on wildfowlers, who do not shoot the species due to the moratorium, but has de-moralised many wildfowlers who have worked towards the conservation of the species for almost 50 years only to find themselves targeted with an unnecessary piece of legislation. It has also set a worrying precedent for the future of wildlife law.
The Minister for Environment Hannah Blythyn came under pressure from colleague John Griffiths AM for Newport East on the 7th November who requested a “legal ban” on the shooting of GWfG. In her response the Minister said: “I recognise that the existing year-round voluntary moratorium on the shooting of Greenland white-fronted geese in Wales is working effectively and being adhered to by wildfowling clubs in Wales. The African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement also recognises this success and the work of the Welsh Greenland white-fronted geese partnership has been a fundamental part of this. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is also an active partner in the partnership, and in recent years has actually reported rises in numbers of such geese at sites in north Wales”.
Despite this success, in a statement issued on the 29th November the Minister noted once again “that the voluntary moratorium on shooting GWfG is working effectively, and is being adhered to by all the wildfowling clubs in Wales” but went on to say that the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) Standing Committee “rejected the UK’s arguments” noting further action was required.”
Rachel Evans, Countryside Alliance Director for Wales said: “The move has disappointed wildfowlers who have been working diligently to conserve the species while adhering to the moratorium. AEWA’s direct action will have no impact on the species future in Wales, and is simply unnecessary meddling from the international organisation. What they should be concentrating on is the root of the problem which is the poor breeding success of the bird which takes place off the shores of Britain.”
“This legislative change will only serve to distance the wildfowling clubs, who are on the frontline of foreshore conservation, from those in power, especially as the moratorium on shooting the species was only last confirmed in 2016, with the full backing on the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths AM.”
The change will be brought into law in autumn 2019.