During a press conference held today, BirdLife Malta stated that the government’s decision to open this year’s spring hunting season has been purely political and lacks any scientific basis. This continues to show how the Ornis Committee, who has a natural majority representing government, is a wasted committee lacking scientific reasoning, where BirdLife Malta’s vote is always at a minority.
BirdLife Malta stated also that it is aware that the European Commission has formally requested the Maltese government a full justification of this year’s spring hunting season. It said this request sends a clear message that the European Commission is doubting the sustainability of this year’s spring hunting season in Malta. BirdLife Malta reminded that while the European Turtle Dove has declined by 30 per cent over the last fifteen years, Malta remains the only member state to allow its killing in spring in all of Europe.
It is for this reason, that BirdLife Malta once again requests Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to halt the spring hunting season.
During the last Ornis Committee meeting, Head of Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) Sergei Golovkin could not present the scientific reasonings for opening this year’s sprinng hunting season. On the other hand, the WBRU head explained how government had held meetings with FKNK (Federazzjoni Kaccaturi Nassaba u Konservazzjonisti) and KSU (Kaccaturi San Ubertu). The hunting organisations were given the opportunity to suggest the conditions of the spring hunting season. Finally WBRU presented a number of proposals to the central government, following which the parameters for the hunting season were decided upon. During the same Ornis Commitee meeting, it was also explained how the government took into consideration the fact that although the Turtle Dove was classified as Vulnerable, it was still listed under Annex 2 of the Birds Directive. The government had also noted that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) did not take a position on the spring hunting of Turtle Dove in Malta, and that in Europe the numbers of Turtle Doves killed in autumn are much larger. Finally, it was explained that the government had still the possibility of applying a derogation to the EU Birds Directive since autumn does not present a satisfactory opportunity for hunters in Malta.
BirdLife Malta insisted that these considerations show clearly that the decision to open a spring hunting season, and the conditions of this same hunting season, have no scientific backing or a valid justification. The government has accordingly made an incorrect political decision to press on with a spring hunting season in 2016.
Over and above all, BirdLife Malta reminds goverment that it carries the duty and obligation to ensure the protection of all bird species that migrate to Europe over Malta during this period. It demanded government not to tolerate any abuse or illegal killing of protected species. Since the start of the season, cases of illegal hunting have already been reported. If government had to apply the same tolerance measures as those of last year, the spring hunting season should have already been closed.