Under threat of EU court censure, Malta reopens bird trapping season

Committee Against Bird Slaughter and BirdLife Malta slam government for opening controversial'bird trapping season, which will remain open till 31 December, 2017

Caged linnet (Photo: BirdLife Malta)
Caged linnet (Photo: BirdLife Malta)

BirdLife Malta and the Germany-based Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) have slammed a decision by the Maltese governmnet to reopen its bird trapping season, while facing a challenge in the EU courts for breaching the EU’s Birds Directive.

Trapping is prohibited across the EU, and the European Court of Justice advocate general Eleanor Sharpston has said Malta has no judicious cause to trap birds, and questioned the level of enforcement and supervision on the islands.


CABS President Heinz Schwarze said Malta’s countryside, bird population and reputation overseas have been “destroyed”.

“It seems that this government is willing to let Malta pay a high price to please a small group of trappers”.

CABS criticised the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) and Clint Camilleri, parliamentary secretary for animal rights, for claiming that trapping is being “rigorously monitored”.

“The opposite is the case, with more than 50 cases of illegal trapping reported by CABS this year alone”, said Schwarze. There’s been a “blooming and totally uncontrolled black market for wild-caught birds”.

BirdLife said that with so many trappers allowed to set their nets on a daily basis, the probability of having the quotas reached and surpassed, is high. “Statistically this is unlikely to happen, as “it is the trappers themselves that have to report their catches”.

CABS also slammed the Maltese police and WBRU for failing to do anything to prevent the illegal mass-sale of wild birds, on the Sunday market in Floriana, which is being held weekly near the Porte des Bombes (Bieb il-Bombi). CABS described it as one of the “central hubs for illegal bird trade” in Malta.

Despite hundreds of finches and other European birds being offered for sale, no proper inspections of the market have been carried out the in the last years, claimed the organisation.

CABS called on the authorities to begin investigations into increasing offers for finches, waders, turtle doves and thrushes on various Maltese internet platforms, including Maltapark.com. “We can only but hope that the authorities do their job properly in enforcing the law”, said BirdLife.

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