Government’s refusal to control hunting of the endangered Gamiema reveals a cosmetic approach to environmental protection

August 18, 2021 12:58 pm

At an ORNIS Committee meeting held today 18th August, BirdLife Malta made it clear that the proposed quota of 500 turtle-doves to be hunted during September is a farce and ignores the warnings that the European Turtle-dove (Gamiema) is seriously endangered.

The European Turtle-dove (Photo by Aron Tanti)

The European Commission is pushing for an EU-wide effort to help the recovery of the declining turtle-dove, and in response to this the Government of Malta proposed reducing the hunting bag limit in autumn to 500 birds when in reality, in the past five years, between 2016 to 2020, the total amount of turtle-doves declared shot and killed by hunters was 809, an average of 162 birds shot per year (see table below or click here).

Allowing 500 turtle-doves to be shot is actually three times more than the average of the last five years, based on the declared amounts by Maltese hunters themselves.

The ORNIS Committee, composed primarily of political appointees, voted in favour of the new turtle-dove quota and only BirdLife Malta opposed it while stating that there should not be any turtle-dove hunting due to its Vulnerable status.

BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana stated: “Malta is only paying lip service to environmental protection. The present administration, through the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU),  is once again willing to appease the hunting lobby and will make no changes to bad practices. The Gamiema can no longer be a huntable species. Furthermore Maltese hunters and the authorities cannot be trusted with reporting or respecting quotas. The Maltese Government, through the WBRU, is taking the European Commission for a ride. In fact only 2.7% of hunters in Malta particpate in the reporting system and there is no indication that this will improve.”

Read the Maltese version of the press release here.