Birdlife warn of legal and environmental ramifications of reopening trapping season

The NGO claimed that if the decision to apply for a derogation is allowed, the country would risk the possibility of another EU court case 

Reopening a trapping season for Golden Plover and Song Thrush would mean the government was taking trappers for a ride, while risking another EU court cast agianst Malta, Birdlife said on Tuesday. 

The eNGO was reacting to a recommendation by the Ornis Comitee, to allow trapping of the two birds, through a derogation from the EU Birds Directive, for the upcoming autumn season. 

Birdlife, which is represented on the Ornis Comitee, was the only organisation to vote against the derogation in a meeting held on the 25 of July. 

it said that during the meeting it reminded representatives from other organisations about the implications such a derogation might have, adding that such a derogation was already subject to infringement proceedings. 

Birdlife said that the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) also briefed the Ornis Committee about the Attorney General’s opinion, which it said had identified various risks in opening a trapping season this year following the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) judgement, which found Malta not to have fulfilled its obligations under EU law. 

In its judgment, the ECJ noted that the use of clap nets resulted in the trapping of a larger number of birds as well as birds that were it was not legal to catch.

Birdlife said that while the Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK) had recommended the use of a larger mesh size for the Golden Plover and the Song Thursh, this did not eliminate the unselective methodology, since other protected birds of the same or larger size could still be caught. 

It said the FKNK had also recommended more enforcement, but Birdlife had pointed out that Ornis Committee had not yet contacted the Police Force or any other relevant enforcement authorities over how such enforcement needs could be met.

Furthermore, it said the FKNK's insistnce that all licensed trappers, including those that up until last year were interested only in the trapping of finches, would be allowed to trap, was of concern. "This will simply be a smokescreen for trappers to trap finches illegally."

Birdlife Malta has said that it will keep on insisting with the government and the European Commission to revoke the decision of opening a trapping season in October, stressing that the ECJ judgment and the AG’s opinion on the issue, reinforced its position.

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