Over ninety MEPs have written to European Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella, asking him to take urgent action against the Maltese government for breaking EU laws to allow trapping and spring hunting of Europe’s migrating birds.
At a press conference in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Catherine Bearder MEP said “The birds which are shot and trapped in Malta, against EU rules, belong to all of Europe and to Africa. That makes this a European issue and the Commission should act accordingly.”
Stefan Eck MEP, Netherlands, said “The Maltese government cannot continue to flout EU laws in this way. Commissioner Vella is under a duty to ensure that the rules of the EU are complied with.”
Last month, the European Commission announced they are taking the Maltese government to court for allowing finch trapping. In the letter, MEPs urged Vella to apply urgent interim measures so that finch trapping is banned for the duration of this case at the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The trapping season is expected to open on October 20th.
The letter also called for the open case on song thrush and golden plover trapping to be heard at the ECJ together with finch trapping, thus dealing with both of Malta’s derogations on trapping together.
Finally, MEPs drew Commissioner Vella’s attention to the recent inclusion of turtle doves on the IUCN Red List of threatened birds, saying that the species could become extinct within our lifetime, and asking for new infringement proceedings to be taken against the Maltese government should they continue to allow this endangered bird to be shot in spring.
Catherine Bearder MEP, UK, said “The Nature Directives are the cornerstone of Europe’s nature protection policy. The European Commission must act to ensure that these laws are adhered to across all Member States, and Malta is no exception.”
MEPs also expressed concern that several countries were spending money, often EU funds, to protect these birds and their habitats while the Maltese government was allowing them to be trapped or shot in spring.
The letter was by BirdLife Malta and 91 MEPs from 23 Member States including Vice-President of the European Parliament, Ulrike Lunacek, and Chair of the European Commission Environment Committee, Giovanni La Via.