Malta will have to reduce hunting bag limit on turtle-dove from this autumn

August 11, 2021 11:22 am

BirdLife Malta welcomes the decision by the European Commission to regulate hunting on the vulnerable European Turtle-dove during autumn.

Following various meetings between the European Commission, scientists and the BirdLife Partnership including BirdLife Malta, the position of the European Union (EU) is now very clear: the turtle-dove will have more protection.

The Maltese Government – like all other EU Member States – will be obliged to implement either a full hunting ban or a 50% reduction of the hunting quotas. Big countries in western Europe such as France, Spain and Portugal are looking at an all-year hunting ban.

An illegally shot turtle-dove recovered by BirdLife Malta earlier this spring (Photo by BirdLife Malta)

In central and eastern Europe, countries like Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta should be adopting a 50% reduction. The Legal Notice announcing this will be discussed today during an ORNIS Committee meeting.

The EU accepted that while a full ban is the only way to secure protection to this bird species which is in heavy decline, if a 50% reduction is adopted it should be calculated on the declared catches of previous years. This has worked favourably for Malta since it is a known fact that hunters purposely underdeclare their catches.

BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana stated: “The European Commission is sending a clear message here. This decision to allow Malta only 500 turtle-doves to be hunted during September also means that the chances of a spring hunting season for turtle-doves is definitely out of the question.

Knowing that there is no respect to hunting laws in Malta, this limited bag limit will not actually stop hunters from killing more than the quota. This puts more pressure on the Maltese Government to strengthen its enforcement efforts and BirdLife Malta will remain committed to do its share in monitoring what is happening in our countryside, support the enforcement efforts and report back both locally and at EU level on whatever we witness.”

It is disappointing that the Maltese Government continues to ignore scientific data.

Read the Maltese version of the press release here.