Malta: BirdLife calls on Commissioner Vella to take instant action over trapping

BirdLife calls on European Commissioner Karmenu Vella to apply interim measures that would ban finch trapping for the duration of a case against Malta at the European Court of Justice

BirdLife Malta has called on European Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella to apply urgent interim measures to ban finch trapping in Malta for the duration of a case against the government at the European Court of Justice.

“Vella has no option but to initiate interim measures against the Maltese government, in order to prevent the indiscriminate and unjustified catching of thousands of birds over the coming three months and safeguard their protection,” BIrdLife conservation manager Nicholas Barbara said in a statement. “Last year, over 8,000 trapping sites were activated, allowing the catch of over 33,000 birds through two derogations. Conditions published in legal notices yesterday indicate similar conditions are being applied.”

The environment ministry on Friday issued two legal notices announcing the start of the autumn finch-trapping season, despite having been referred to the EU Court of Justice by the European Commission for breaching the Birds Directive.

The season is set to run from 20 October to 31 December, allowing for the trapping of linnet, goldfinch, siskin, hawfinch, chaffinch and serin.

“The government’s defiance is an indication of its lack of appreciation in protecting migrating birds, and of its political commitment to respect the treaty signed by Malta when it became an EU member state,” Barbara said of Malta’s accession treaty that explicitly banned all bird trapping after 2008.

“Our main concern is that many wild birds are going to be caught and taken from nature for no justifiable reason other than a recreational need,” Barbara said. “This is a considerable impact on wildlife and that is the reason why bird trapping is illegal under such directives. We hereby call on the Government not to open the trapping season to safeguard and protect migrating birds. In view that Malta would now be taken to the European Court of Justice, we hope the government would retract from opening the season till the ECJ ruling is announced.”

89 MEPs have officially asked Karmenu Vella, the Maltese European Commissioner, to take urgent action against the Maltese government for breaking EU laws to allow trapping and spring hunting of Europe’s migrating birds.

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