SUSTAINABLE HUNTING – Building Capacity for Sustainable Hunting of Migratory Birds in Mediterranean Third Countries

This pamphlet includes the results of a study done from June 2005 to February 2006 in Lebanon, tackling the topic of hunting in Lebanon. The study covered 2000 persons with different ages from different areas. Furthermore, the pamphlet includes information about the migration of birds between Asia, Europe, and Africa, information about the importance of the Middle East and especially Lebanon to birds and migratory birds, the list of bird species which are threatened with extinction and their significance in the Middle East and mainly Lebanon, in addition to the measurements taken to preserve bird species.

Many migratory birds which breed in Europe and central and western Asia use migration routes that pass through the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean, entailing the migration of large numbers of birds flying at predictable times of year and often at predictable sites. These birds with such migration “strategies” are especially vulnerable to threats such as from hunting.
There are up to 12 000 registered hunters in Tunisia and another 20 000 in Lebanon. Indeed, hunting is an important socio-economic activity in the region, particularly in rural areas. Sport hunting has become widespread and brings in large numbers of foreign visitors.
However, the management of bird hunting in the Mediterranean third countries is subject to weak legal regulation and enforcement, lack of resources and capacity among governmental and non-governmental organisations, poor awareness of the impact of hunting, and lack of regional agreement on action to better protect migratory birds. As a result, hunters kill an estimated 500 million birds as they migrate through the Mediterranean each year, a significant proportion of which are shot or trapped in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East. Many of those killed are internationally threatened species or listed on Annex 1 of the EU’s Birds Directive.

The Sustainable Hunting project’s overall objective was to improve the conservation status of migratory birds within eight key countries (i.e., Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia), along the western Paleartic flyway, by moving toward regionally and nationally coordinated, internationally accepted and science-based sustainable hunting. Specifically the project goal was to ”strengthen the management of bird hunting , reduce excessive indiscriminate and illegal hunting of migratory birds, promote more
sustainable hunting practices and enhance the compliance of international and regional agreements on the conservation of migratory birds.” The project furthermore aimed to provide quantitative information on hunters and the methods they employ.
The Sustainable Hunting project used regional initiatives and collaborative projects between government, hunting and conservation groups to develop a common approach to strengthen the management of bird hunting in the region.
Tunisia and Lebanon were the focal countries for demonstrating the range of activities aimed at achieving sustainable hunting which could be replicated in the other project countries. Both countries have migratory “bottlenecks” and wintering sites of crucial conservation importance for migratory birds on their territories.
The project activities strengthened hunting management – especially through its institutional strengthening and capacity building activities – in the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean. National reports providing up-to-date information on hunting in eight Mediterranean Third Countries – often for the first time – were published by the project. A database of priority species and sites in need of legal protection was created.
The project produced seven regional synthesis reports on key topics for the conservation of migratory birds and the management of hunting in the Mediterranean countries of North Africa and the Middle East:

1. Bird hunting practices

2. Bird hunting policy and legislation

3. Bird hunting management

4. Religious, cultural and socio-economic importance of migratory bird hunting

5. Alternative economic models to shooting of migratory birds

6. International conventions and agreements

7. The use of lead short for bird hunting in wetlands
The collaborative work between government institutions and conservation and national hunting groups from Lebanon and Tunisia enabled the agreement of model practices for hunters and for the regulation of hunting activities. These were set out in two separate documents:
“Regional Guidelines for moving Towards Sustainable Hunting of Migratory Birds” – a model for hunting management in the region in both English and Arabic
A “Code of Practice for Responsible Hunting of Migratory Birds” provides a quick summary of best practice for hunters in English, Arabic and French These documents were disseminated amongst decision makers and hunters. The Code of Practice was even included in an annual hunters’ guide distributed to all licensed hunters in Tunisia. Awareness days were organised for law enforcement officials on hunting legislation and identification of protected bird species.
The project produced more general public awareness-raising materials on the sustainable hunting of migratory birds including an innovative, interactive, education programme for school children, to educate the next generation of potential hunters. Education material for schools was, for example, developed for Lebanon that covered six training sessions.
Whilst most of the project activities took place in Tunisia and Lebanon, the projects outputs are a relevant guide for other countries in the region. To take this work forward, the project’s final act was to produce a Regional Action Plan for moving towards responsible hunting and the conservation of migratory birds in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Region 2008-2013. The Regional Action Plan recognized that several gaps remain, such as in the areas of awareness, capacity building and policy, and recommends activities to address
such gaps.
The project orientations are in line with the Sustainable Hunting Initiative launched by the EU in 2001 and the recent publication of the EU guide to the sustainable hunting of wild birds.

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