European hunters stand ground on Maltese trapping after EU Court edges closer to ban

European hunters federation stands its ground faced with ECJ Advocate General’s opinion on trapping in Malta

Conservationists have insisted that finch trapping must be banned
Conservationists have insisted that finch trapping must be banned

The European hunters’ federation FACE has defended Maltese hunters in the face of an opinion delivered on Wednesday, in which Eleanor Sharpston, Advocate General at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), stated Malta had acted against the EU’s Birds Directive by re-opening the trapping season in 2015.

FACE said the non-binding “advisory opinion”, which will however influence the outcome of the case, did not take into account the EU Council’s conclusions on the EU Action Plan for nature, in which the Council recognised “that the flexibility of implementation approaches [within the Directive] that take into account specific national circumstances contributes to the reduction and progressive elimination of unnecessary conflicts and problems between nature protection and socioeconomic activities.”

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FACE insisted that Article 2 of the Birds Directive puts “cultural” requirements at the same level of importance as “ecological” requirements when considering those measures to maintain bird populations.

FACE said that it was clear that Article 2 shows that the rules take into consideration on the one hand, the necessity for effective protection of birds and, on the other hand, the requirements of public health and safety, the economy, ecology, science, farming and recreation.

It also said the Birds Directive fully recognised the legitimacy of hunting of wild birds as “acceptable exploitation” and allows derogations from the bans on trapping and spring hunting.

Turning to whether or not trapping can be carried out “judiciously”, one of the conditions to derogate from the ban, FACE reiterated that traditional hunting practices in Europe, such as the live capture of finches, are part of the cultural and even ethnological heritage of the countries and regions where they continue to be practiced.