Maltese challenge to ECJ ruling on finch trapping ‘absurd’ says BirdLife

Using the excuse of scientific research to create a smokescreen for more birds to be trapped is unacceptable

A trapped linnet. Photo: BirdLife
A trapped linnet. Photo: BirdLife

The Maltese government is planning to challenge the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling which found Malta guilty of opening finch trapping seasons in breach of the EU Birds Directive, to allow finch trapping with the excuse that it will be done for scientific research purposes.

The decision has been slammed by BirdLife Malta. “It is, to say the least, absurd and irresponsible for the Government to take this route. In the past it has weakened and amended laws purely to create a smokescreen for the illegal killing of birds. Now it wants to create a smokescreen for tens of thousands of songbirds to be trapped by creatively classifying it as a scientific study,” BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana said.

“In the past 10 years we have seen various changes in laws to appease the hunting and trapping lobby: from the removal of curfews during raptor migration to allowing hunting at Majjistral Park, and from opening rabbit hunting seasons without any restrictions to weakening taxidermy laws that simply allowed further abuse of the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations.

“This is a record that only a hunter minister could be proud of while it shames the rest of the country! BirdLife Malta has always stated that it is a massive mistake to hand over the conservation of wild birds to a hunter that has now become the Minister for Gozo. This is not only disrespectful to the Minister for Environment but also without any legal strength, and hence the reason why BirdLife Malta is challenging this decision in the law courts,” Sultana said.

Sultana said that with enforcement leaving a lot to be desired or even non-existent at times, this decision will make room for rampant abuse of the system as was the case when laws purely to appease a lobby that gives nothing to the country but takes a lot from the rest of its citizens. “Birds are there to be enjoyed by all and not by a privileged group that struggles to understand the beauty of wildlife. BirdLife Malta will be asking a lot of questions during next week’s ORNIS Committee meeting and will do all within its power to stop this absurdity.”

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