The EU Commission will be looking into Malta’s justification for opening to controversial trapping season for protected song-birds under the pretext of research.
Vivian Loonela, a spokesperson for the EU’s Environment Commissioner, told Lovin Malta that it has requested clarification from Maltese authorities on the conditions of the derogation.
“We are now assessing the explanations provided and will follow up as appropriate,” she said.
Earlier this month, the government announced that trapping season for the protected birds will be opened under the pretext of a study into their migration habits. This is one of the few exceptions allowed to the EU-wide ban on trapping.
The controversial practice has been outlawed in Malta after an EU court judgement in 2018. Since the ruling, only two species of finches – the golden plover and the song thrush – have been allowed to be captured in nets.
BirdLife Malta criticised the decision, warning that it was purely a vote-catching tactic to hold hunters’ support. The conservation group’s CEO called it “an absolute farce” if the government expects trappers to release all the birds they capture as per the study’s guidelines.
The Commission insisted that the enforcement of EU environmental law, which dictates that bird trapping is illegal save for certain exceptions, must be carried out by national authorities.
“However, the Commission remains ready to take action whenever necessary,” she added.
Should hunters be allowed to trap songbirds for research?