Malta is a vital stopover for migrating birds and when the country joined the EU in 2004, it committed to the EU Directive on bird protection but the Maltese government has continued to derogate from this Directive and has allowed trapping and hunting that is forbidden by the Directive and has claimed exception from the rules.
Malta has applied derogations from the Birds Directive to allow the trapping of finches, song thrush and golden plover and there have also been repeated accusations that hunting is allowed at an unsustainable level, and that illegal hunting remains a persistent problem.
Together with the NGO Bird Life Malta, I have campaigned against the hunting and trapping of these protected birds and for a better enforcement of the directive.
We have seen a first success of our campaign in September 2015, when the European Commission finally decided to refer Malta to the Court of Justice of the European Union over finch trapping but we still have to see more action by the European Commission to protect the golden plover and the song thrush.
Malta also applies a derogation to hunt Turtle Doves and Quail in spring. Since 1980, we have lost 4 out of 5 turtle doves across Europe and in 2015 turtle doves were included on the IUCN Red List of threatened birds. These birds are on the road to extinction, yet Malta continues to kill them in spring as they make their journey north to breed and lay eggs and before they have had a chance to reproduce, which is a serious threat to the species’ survival. Since birds do not respect national boundaries, we need to ensure that they are protected in the whole of the EU in order for them to be able to migrate safely through every country.
- Asked a Parliamentary Question to the European Commission calling for the enforcement of the Birds Directive and to refer Malta to the European Court of Justice over its derogations for the trapping of song thrush and golden plover.
- Signed two letters to the European Commission (here and here) stressing the serious impact the trapping and hunting derogations in Malta have on Maltese and European wildlife and calling for urgent action to stop the abuse of the EU Birds Directive.