Ornis Committee recommends autumn finch-trapping season

As the country awaits the decision of the European Court of Justice, the government’s advisory board is recommending the opening of the 2017 finch-trapping season in autumn

12 May 2017, 4:37pm
The Ornis Committee is recommending an autumn trapping season
The Ornis Committee is recommending an autumn trapping season
The Ornis Committee will be making its recommendations to the government in favour of opening the finch-trapping season in autumn, MaltaToday has learned.

The season would begin towards the end of October, running until December.

The recommendation comes as Malta awaits the decision of the European Court of Justice on its decision to allow the trapping of finches, despite the practice was banned in 2009. It was then re-introduced in 2014.

The recommendation also comes as the country is in the middle of an electoral campaign.

In September 2015, the European Commission officially referred the country to the EU courts and the hearings before the EU court took place in February.

Sources said that while the Ornis Committee was recommending the opening of the season, a final decision will depend on what the ECJ rules and what the government of the day decides to do.

“If the ECJ confirms that Malta has breached EU laws, the government will have two options: it either defies the court’s decision or it breaks the promise made with trappers,” the sources said.

Trapping of all birds is prohibited by EU law and was phased out and eventually banned in Malta in 2009, in line with its EU accession treaty.

However, the Labour government in 2014 reintroduced the trapping of seven species of wild finches – on the assumption that it can justly derogate from EU law in a similar fashion to spring hunting.

This is because an article in the EU Birds Directive allows EU member states from the ban “where there is no other satisfactory solution…to permit, under strictly supervised conditions and on a selective basis, the capture, keeping or other judicious use of certain birds in small numbers”.

However, the European’s Environment Commission – spearheaded by former Labour minister Karmenu Vella - has argued that the traditional Maltese use of clap nets is a non-selective trapping style, and that trapping birds for leisure does not constitute a “judicious” reason to derogate.