Hunting and trapping in Spain alive and well under derogation from EU Birds Directive
Jorge Garcia (The Sunday Times, May 9) was astonished to see his country, Spain, referred to as a good example of bad environmental practices. He clearly has no idea of what Spanish hunters enjoy with the blessing of the EU and its regional governments, and which environmental laws the Spanish openly flout.
Two of Birdlife Malta's partners - the Committee Against Bird Slaughter and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds - state on their websites that under derogation from the Birds Directive, the following are licensed in Spain:
Autumn trapping, with lime sticks, of migrating thrushes in Catalonia "for scientific purposes" (although this is illegal in Valencia, it still continues in the absence of enforcement activity); spring hunting of woodpigeons from February to March in the Basque country (northern Spain).
Trapping, with nets and lime, of finches, mainly for use as caged birds - this takes place in most regions, notably Andalucía, Catalonia, Valencia and Murcia (i.e. from central to southern Spain); netting of migrating thrushes in Mallorca from October to January.
Spain has 980,000 hunters, the second highest number in the EU after France.
As for contraventions of the Birds Directive in Spain, regional governments permit spring shooting of pigeons, thrushes and woodcocks in February in Andalusia, Extremadura and Cantabria.
In several regions, during the breeding season (spring), hunting of woodpigeons, turtle doves and quails is allowed. In some regions, hunting of species not listed as those that can be legally hunted in Annex II of the directive also takes place.
Yet Mr Garcia seems more interested in commenting about Malta. If he is worried by eco-tourism, being a Spaniard should make him more intent on solving the problems in Spain.
Admittedly, his inability to do this must have been the "very reason that brought him to these beautiful islands of Malta" and run to Birdlife Malta's defence.
Incidentally, does bullfighting in Spain help draw eco-tourists to his country? He should try Birdlife Malta - they may be able to stop that too.