FKNK toasts season with thanks for government’s ‘strong will’ to defend hunting

Hunting season underway following BirdLife’s unsuccessful attempt at securing injunction against derogation from EU spring hunting ban

FKNK president Lucas Micallef and CEO Lino Farrugia
FKNK president Lucas Micallef and CEO Lino Farrugia

Malta’s hunting lobby toasted the defeat of yet another court case filed by BirdLife against the derogation from the EU’s spring hunting ban, by thanking the Maltese government’s “strong political will” in defending the hunting of birds.

Malta’s hunting season for quail opened Wednesday 10 April and will last till 30 April, whilst hunting for turtle dove – which is facing a decline globally – will open from the 17 to 30 April.

“This was the third year in a row that BirdLife filed a court request on the eve of the opening of the spring hunting season and the third year in a row that such mandates were rejected,” said FKNK’s president Lucas Micallef. “Consequently BirdLife has been reprimanded, by the three different judges who presided over the three cases.”

BirdLife request to prevent the opening of the hunting season, was turned down on 9 April after Mr Justice Francesco Depasquale said the conservationist society’s case was a “glaring case of forum shopping with a claim identical to that of previous years, hoping that a different judge will accept it.”

The Court agreed with submissions from the FKNK that the decimation of global turtle dove populations on their migratory rout from Africa into Europe could not be directly attributable to the two-week hunting season on Malta.

Maltese hunters are granted a maximum catch of 1,500 turtle doves over a period of fourteen days, although poaching remains a problem throughout the entire island.

The Court disagreed that this could be a main cause for the decrease in the population of turtle doves in Europe and in the world, as insisted upon by the FKNK.

BirdLife Malta has insisted that the court did not challenge the argument it presented. “While I think there are some worrying comments in the conclusions, of course we respect the court’s decision and accept that the injunction for 2024 has not gone through. We will continue our work in the case on the merits and will ensure that it receives all the resources and reports necessary for the court to take a sound, solid decision, not only about the past but also for possible future Spring hunting seasons, until the birds are in a favourable situation.”

Sultana disagreed with the suggestion that the injunctions were an annual exercise in futility. “It is not futile because it is important that we continue to try. Values don't change and one does not simply stop because of a hurdle. It is true that it is very hard to convince a court about a scientific topic on a prima facie basis, because it’s very difficult to see the reality of it, but it’s something which we cannot not do, and something that we will continue to do in future.”