[WATCH] European court decision on finch trapping will be respected – Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says a Labour administration would respect the decision of the European Court of Justice

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Joseph Muscat on finch trapping

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that if the European Court of Justice (ECJ) were to decide against bird trapping the decision will be respected and the autumn trapping season would not be opened.  

Last week, it was revealed that the Ornis Committee will be recommending the opening of the finch-trapping season in autumn to the government, despite the fact that Malta is currently awaiting a decision by the ECJ on the matter.

The practice was banned in Malta in 2009, but was reintroduced by the Muscat administration in 2014.

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil has criticised the decision, arguing that this would weaken Malta’s position as it attempts to convince the courts that the practice should be allowed to continue. He insisted that Muscat did not care about hunters and trappers and was merely trying to save his own skin.

“Court decisions are court decisions,” Muscat said when pressed by MaltaToday. “What is certain is that trappers, as well as environmentalists, know where they stand with us. We don’t play both sides.”

Muscat said that he had been criticised in the past for taking a position in favour of hunting and trapping despite having been the “Prime Minister that closed the hunting season when it was necessary”.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister said it was also time to revise local laws governing fines for hunters and trappings.

“I think the way in which fines are administered is draconian and should be revised because hunters shouldn’t be treated in this way,” said Muscat. “I obviously can’t criticise the courts but I think there needs to be more rationality in the way fines are given out.”

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