EU indicates no change in attitude on finch trapping

A trapped greenfinch under the nets. Photo: Natalino Fenech

A trapped greenfinch under the nets. Photo: Natalino Fenech

The European Commission is closely following the Government’s relaxation of autumn hunting rules, but has not indicated any change in its position on finch trapping.

A Commission spokesman said it is following reports that the Government, supported by the hunters’ lobby (FKNK), is considering applying for a derogation for trapping.

He underlined that autumn hunting is possible under the Birds Directive but has to meet existing rules.

All hunting activity, including in autumn, must nevertheless comply with the principle of wise use

“All hunting activity, including in autumn, must nevertheless comply with the principle of wise use and be compatible with the maintenance of the population of the hunted species at a satisfactory level,” the spokesman told Times of Malta.

“This implies that the competent authorities in Malta must ensure by appropriate measures a compliant application of these provisions, namely by a strict enforcement of hunting activities, aiming in particular to avoid illegal hunting of protected species.”

The Commission did not comment directly on the latest relaxation of hunting rules, although sources told this newspaper “the trend is being closely monitored”.

Last week, the Government announced the autumn hunting season dates, and reduced the curfew intended to protect migrating raptors when they come down to roost.

Sources close to the Commission said Brussels will not change its position against any sort of finch trapping – which hunters are pressuring the Government to re-introduce.

In an interview in May, Animal Rights Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes said that the Government would look at a “technical loophole” in the EU rules that would allow it to present proposals to allow finch trapping.

The Commission’s spokesman yesterday made it clear that finch trapping is not allowed and that Malta, upon its accession, was given a special transitional period “to phase-out the trapping of non-huntable song-birds (finches) by the end of 2008”.

Officials recalled that the Commission is still pursuing a 2010 infringement against Malta on the incorrect application of a derogation permitting bird trapping.

The Commission is still to decide whether to close the case or to refer it to the European Court of Justice.


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