Malta will raise environmental crime as a priority during its EU council presidency. The country’s home affairs minister, Carmelo Abela, said environmental crime was one of the more profitable offshoots of organised crime that had serious consequences on human health, biodiversity, climate change and the economy.

He was addressing a panel of European experts part of the environmental crime law enforcement network meeting in Malta.

As reported by The Times of Malta, Abela said environmental crime was very often linked to other criminal activity.

Roel Willekens, chair of Envicrimenet, which brings together national police forces and agencies, said: “People are dying and getting sick because of environmental damage caused by criminal activity, apart from disrupting the economic balance”.

In a separate report, MaltaToday noted that an Interpol survey carried out amongst 34 European countries found that waste crime, poaching and trafficking of protected species of fauna and fisheries crime were considered to be the areas that concern countries most.