Government mulls ‘limited’ trapping
Birdlife insists trapping should be outlawed
The government is considering a “limited” trapping season this autumn but no decision has been taken yet as such a move might be too much for the EU.
Malta is already facing infringement procedures for allowing trapping in autumn in previous years and has been warned twice over the issue.
The last time was in the form of a “reasoned opinion” – the second stage of the EU’s three-pronged legal procedure – issued in February.
According to the European Commission, Malta has not managed to justify its decision to allow trapping in the autumn with the scientific proof required by the Birds Directive.
Sources close to the Commission yesterday told The Times that “another unjustified derogation this year might push the EU executive to close the file and send it to the Luxembourg judges (the European Court of Justice) for consideration.”
Last year the season was scaled down to just one species – the song thrush.
However, the hunters’ lobby is once again pushing the government to allow a full-blown trapping season, asking to be permitted to trap 17 different species of birds through four different derogations.
The government will be feeling under even more pressure than usual considering this will be the last autumn season before the country goes to the polls.
On the other hand, Birdlife has continued to insist that trapping should be completely outlawed.
On Tuesday the government announced the dates for the coming five-month long hunting season, starting on Saturday, but avoided making any commitment on trapping.
The Ornis Committee has recommended the application of a limited derogation for the trapping of golden plover and song thrush but the government said it has requested “additional information” before making its assessment.
This position is the same as last year’s. However, in 2011, following further discussions, the government had made a concession to trappers, allowing them to trap the song thrush during the autumn.
A source within the Commission told The Times yesterday that the matter this year has become more complicated by the EU Executive’s decision last February to take its legal action up a notch, as a result of which the reasoned opinion was issued.
In the tradition of the hunting and trapping controversy that has raged for years, diametrically opposed views were expressed on the subject yesterday.
Lino Farrugia, the general secretary of the major hunting lobby, FKNK, urged the government should accede to the organisation’s proposals.
“We have shown the government how to correctly apply the derogations and there should be no problem with the EU,” he argued.
Accusing the government of failing to implement past promises, Mr Farrugia said the government should stop “torturing” hunters and trappers.
On the other hand, Birdlife president Joe Mangion said the authorities cannot “try to please everyone all the time.”
He said that Birdlife considered trapping illegal, in line with EU rules.