Ornis chairman refuses to explain trapping decision

Despite occupying a public role as chairman of the Ornis Committee, anthropologist Prof. Mark Anthony Falzon said it was “not his job to speak to the press about Ornis-related matters”. 

The chairman of the government’s consultative body on hunting has refused to explain the rationale behind a recent recommendation to open an autumn trapping season, against EU warnings.

Despite occupying a public role as chairman of the Ornis Committee, anthropologist Prof. Mark Anthony Falzon told MaltaToday that it was “not his job to speak to the press about Ornis-related matters”. 

Moreover, parliamentary secretary for animal rights Roderick Galdes said that he “respects” Falzon’s stance of public silence. 

“In his role as chairman of an autonomous advisory body, he is expected to be impartial and should not prejudice his position,” Galdes explained. “The Ornis Committee is an advisory board which is autonomous from the government. Therefore the government is not in a position to comment on the internal workings of the committee.” 

Falzon had spoken to this newspaper about Ornis’ decision to open the 2014 autumn trapping season, which he had then defended as a “fair” decision. 

On 27 May, Ornis recommended that finch trapping be continued this autumn, despite knowing that it would escalate European Commission legal proceedings against Malta. Indeed, only a day later, the EC formally warned Malta to end finch trapping.

Despite this risk, Galdes told MaltaToday that the government is considering the Ornis recommendations, along with other advice, and will announce its decision on trapping “in due course”. 

On his part, the PN’s spokesperson on hunting Charlo Bonnici has declined to stick his neck out, saying it was too early to take a stance but that the PN was following the matter “very closely”. 

“The EC’s legal procedures were expected and it’s the government that now needs to defend its decision to re-open the finch trapping season,” Bonnici said.  

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