On October 12, 1995 Poland became a signatory to the CONVENTION ON THE CONSERVATION OF EUROPEAN WILDLIFE AND NATURAL HABITATS, also known as a Bern Convention of September 19th, 1979. The text of the convention was signed by the President of the Republic, and co-signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The full text of the law was published accordingly in the official legal publication: Dziennik Ustaw Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, Nr. 58/96, Pozycja 264, dated May 25th, 1996 as enclosure.
The author reviewed the text of this Convention for its accuracy with the original document. The text was published in both Polish and original English language version. Surprisingly, in comparing the accuracy of both versions, I found that in many respects the Polish translation does not correspond to its original English version. Certain important sections of the Law are simply omitted from official Polish translation. For example, absent in Polish version is part about exploitation of freshwater fishes of Appendix IV, which regulates the means and methods of killing, capture and various forms of exploitation of animals. There are major errors and discrepancies in a translation of parts of the text dealing with mammals.
Poland did not notify any reservation to the Appendix IV along with ratification of the Convention.
On November 11, 1996, I have notified the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland about my findings. A copy of this communication was also sent to the Chancellory of the Polish Parliament.
Specifically, I raised the following important legal issues:
(1) The omissions in Appendix IV that regulate methods of killing, capture and animal exploitation allow a continuation of such procedures in Poland.
This incudes among others: the commercial capture of living hares with nets for purpose of exporting live animals to Western Europe for hunting;
fishing in freshwater reservoirs by using an electric devices, etc.
(2) The validity of membership in the Convention, since the Polish text is different from the original.
(3) Issue of applicability, i.a. which version of the law is valid in Poland: Polish or English, since both of them were published in the official legal registry: Dziennik Ustaw.
Four months later, on March 3 rd, 1997, I received a response to my communication. In it, the low ranking officer from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, has confirmed my findings, and declared that the appropriate corrections will be made in Polish language version of the law, including the issues that I have raised, especially the prohibition on fishing with the electric devices. Additionaly, the letter affirmed that the English and not Polish version of the document is the valid and original legal document in Poland. However, this is clearly strange, since all laws of the Polish Republic must be written in Polish to be valid.
The declarations from the Minister of Environment did not bring any change. The Bern Convention that has been a legal law of the land in Poland since January 1 st, 1996, but it doesn't mean much since no correct proper version of this law was ever published.
In addition, new amendments to the Hunting Law were voted by the Polish Parliament in 1997, that allow capture with nets of living hares for export. These animals are later released in a totally new habitats in Western Europe, right before the arrival of hunting parties, thus making them a guaranteed, easy, and profitable hunting objects.
A separate set of regulations that are contrary to the Bern Convention was introduced by the Minster of Agriculture in Dziennik Ustaw 60/97, poz 372/9.1.9. Among its provisions, the electrical fishing tools are listed as legal means of fishing.
"Scientists" from Institute of Freshwater Fishery (Instytut Rybactwa Srodladowego) hired to excuse such way of fishing argue, that only some fish is shocked by current and floats up on surface. They argue, that another can survive. It is obvious, that they do not analyze, how many fish and another small animals would be electrocuted in bottom, and that the effects of electrocution would extend into many other species of aquatic animals and plants , not just selected fishes.
Like many other states, the Polish Government had a choice of addressing this isue by simply stating its reservations to the Appendix IV. Instead it chose to cheat and lie, by publishing two conflicting laws: one in English for use of a foreign reader, and one in Polish for internal use.
Yet, the worse of all, is the realization that I am paying taxes for all these idiotic ways of destroying Poland's Natural Heritage by the Polish Governmental officials.
Barbara Glowacka jastra@ jastra.com.pl
with help of Jacek Purat firstname.lastname@example.org
If You want to help in this matter, please send Your comment to president of Poland:
Notes: fragments of Polish constitution (from parlament WWW site) .
Konwencja Berneńska - spis tekstów / The Bern Convention - list of texts
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