‘EU action on turtle dove hunting should cover all member states, not just Malta’

Harsh Brussels line on Malta hunting cannot ignore other EU states hunting of bird in autumn, says MEP candidate Peter Agius

Nationalist MEP candidate Peter Agius
Nationalist MEP candidate Peter Agius

Nationalist candidate for Europe Peter Agius has written to the European Commissioner responsible for the environment, protesting at what he claims is Brussels’ singling-out of Malta’s derogation from the EU’s spring hunting ban.

The Maltese government is being challenged over plans to once again derogate from the ban on spring hunting, in a court case filed by conservationist NGO BirdLife. Malta is already facing infringement procedures from Brussels over previous derogations.

“It is ridiculous that the European Commission allows Spain, Greece and seven other countries hunt for turtle dove in the autumn, while in Malta opposing groups feud over spring hunting,” Agius said.

Hunting derogation flies in face of Birds Directive, EU task force says

The EU’s Birds Directive bans the hunting of migratory species during their period of reproduction or during their return to their rearing grounds. Member states can only derogate from the ban under certain conditions.

But Agius insists that other countries that allow the hunting of turtle dove – in autumn – kill over 1 million such birds a year. “If we want to conserve the turtle dove, we must insist that the European Commission proposes that the turtle dove is protected around all of Europe,” Agius said in his letter to Commissioner Virginius Sinkevicius.

“It would serve the Commission nothing to take action against Malta over the hunting of 2,000 turtle doves when it allows the hunting of 1 million turtle dove in nine other member states. The conservation of the species goes beyond national borders.

“I appeal to the Commission to respect the decision of the European Court of Justice that recognises Malta’s particular case and allows a derogation from the Birds Directive. If the EC must act on the hunting of turtle dove, it should act on a European basis and not just on Malta alone.”