Animal rights secretariat welcomes anti-smuggling court decision

Government reiterates zero-tolerance policy for infringements

The Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights has welcomed a court judgement against the smuggling of a large consignment of live protected birds from Sicily.

The consignment, which was hidden in a refrigerator van, consisted of 551 specimens of several species of finches which are protected under national and EU legislation. 

The case was disclosed and prosecuted as a result of joint operation by Customs, the Administrative Law Enforcement Unit of the Malta Police Force and the Specialist Enforcement Branch of the Wild Birds Regulation Unit. Magistrate Anthony Vella ordered a fine of €4,600 and confiscation of the van.

"In line with the government's zero-tolerance policy for infringements, illegalities of this nature shall not be tolerated. The fight against illegal killing, trapping and trade in wild birds is being stepped up, and the recent increase in enforcement presence in the field, the doubling of penalties for bird-related crime, and the number of significant cases disclosed over the past weeks are a testimony to Government's seriousness and resolve to combat such crime," the secretariat said.

A working group consisting of the representatives of key stakeholders including Birdlife Malta, the FKNK, the Police, MEPA and the Wild Birds Regulation Unit will be developing a national strategy for the eradication of illegal killing, trapping and trade in wild birds.