Ornis opens trapping season for Song Thrush and Golden Plover, ban on finch trapping continues

There will be no finch trapping during the upcoming trapping season, after the Ornis Committee decided to open trapping for the Song Thrush and Golden Plover

There will be no finch trapping during the upcoming trapping season, after the Ornis Committee decided to open trapping for the Song Thrush and Golden Plover.

The committee, which includes representatives from BirdLife Malta and the hunting lobby FKNK, also voted to reduce the mesh size of trapping nets for Song Thrush from 45mm to 34mm, claiming that trappers had complained that birds were escaping from the nets.

However, while over 500 Song Thrush were caught with the nets last year, this was actually double the average, 250, caught with the smaller mesh size nets the past five years. No proper evidence was submitted to justify reducing the net size.

This was indeed one of the measures introduced by the government following the ban on finch trapping enforced by the European Court of Justice, after Malta was hauled to the court by the European Commission for derogating from the ban, which is enshrined in the Birds Directive.

The trapping season for autumn will now run to 10 January, some 10 days longer than the usual season.

"We take note of the government’s insistence at derogating from the EU Birds Directive for Song Thrush and Golden Plover in the light of a a decision by the EU courts that halted finch trapping. Trapping of Golden Plover and Song Thrush remain under infringement proceedings. We now can only rely on the EU Commission to scrutinise this derogation. The government needs to appreciate that it has to safeguard birds and their habitats not the capture of wild birds. There is no justification for this derogation," BirdLife CEO Mark Sultana told MaltaToday.

In 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that Malta was breaking EU rules by allowing the trapping of protected finches. Malta, on its part, has often applied for two separate derogations on trapping from the EU birds directive, concerning finches, song thrushes and golden plovers. 

Both cases have been subjected to EU infringement proceedings, however, despite the European Commission taking Malta to court over finching trapping, the other expectation has yet to be addressed. 

However, despite the fact that the ECJ stated that trapping of finches is illegal in 2018, hunters continue to argue the right derogation could be applied for bird trapping, allowing it to continue.

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