Prime Minister given the wrong advice to challenge the EU and the European Court

October 13, 2020 2:34 pm

It is incredible that hunters and trappers are once again to be granted privileges on completely wrong premises. In the past days everyone became aware of how large stretches of public land in Miżieb and L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa were gifted to hunters. The last time there was a similar attempt was in March 1986, 34 years ago, and at the time the Government had heeded environmental NGOs. Now, in a few days’ time, the Government will be opening a trapping season for songbirds.

This is a wrong decision, for many reasons:

  • Mainly because in 2018 Malta was stopped from opening a trapping season by the European Court.
  • In its Accession Treaty to the European Union (EU), Malta had agreed to abolish trapping for songbirds by 2008. This had in fact materialised.
  • However in 2014 the Government opened the season again and in just four years was found guilty by the European Court of Justice of breaching the EU’s Birds Directive.
This morning’s press conference in front of the Office of the Prime Minister (Photo by Katarzyna Pacon)

In a press conference in front of the Office of the Prime Minister at Castille this morning, BirdLife Malta officials explained how the present situation is completely surreal, with the Government this season challenging all this under the excuse that trappers will be carrying out a scientific study. This is a weak and stupid excuse: a decision spurred by considerations which are purely vote-catching. And it is happening in a situation where the number of trappers who trap is insignificant when compared to all Maltese and Gozitans who care for our country’s environment.

Linnet (Ġojjin) in a cage

It is an absolute farce that they want us to believe that trappers are expected to release all birds which they trap. In the face of this mockery, it is evidently clear that Prime Minister Robert Abela has been completely deceived by Minister Clint Camilleri who it seems, apart from being a trapper, is also a politician who doesn’t give a hoot about what our country has achieved over a period of 20 years for the environment.

Prim Minister Robert Abela should take note that if he opens this trapping season under the weak excuse of a scientific study he will be challenging the European Union and the European Court of Justice, resulting in Malta being taken once again to the European Court. Above all he should understand that this will be another step leading to the destruction of Malta’s environment.

Finch trapping in the north of Malta

We remind everyone that in 2015, following a national referendum about spring hunting in which the Maltese people voted – a referendum which was lost by JUST 2,000 votes – then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had promised his commitment to safeguard Malta’s natural environment. This is the same government, with the same mandate. It is not a different government.

On its part BirdLife Malta, with the help of local organisations and particularly international ones, will do its utmost in the European and Maltese institutions to stop this arrogant and wrong decision using all possible means in the country’s interest and in the interest of the Maltese people who want a better environment in a modern world which embraces progressive values and not regressive ones.

Read the Maltese version of the press release here.