BirdLife welcomes ECJ decision on spring hunting in Malta
In a verdict delivered on 10 September, the European Court of Justice (ECJ, case C-76/08) declared that Malta has breached European law by allowing spring hunting of Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur and Common Quail Coturnix coturnix in the years 2004-2007.
BirdLife International and BirdLife Malta welcomed the ruling as it shows that this practice jeopardizes the conservation of these species, which have been classified by BirdLife as being in unfavourable conservation status in Europe. As a consequence, BirdLife concludes spring hunting has to end permanently. Hunting in autumn can continue for these and 30 other species in Malta, under certain conditions laid out in the EU Birds Directive.
BirdLife International and BirdLife Malta had submitted a complaint to the European Commission on Malta’s insistence on spring hunting in 2005. “This ruling is good news for millions of European birds, including Turtle Dove and Quail that cross Malta every spring on their dangerous migration back from Africa. Once again we have an example how the EU Birds Directive can help our common natural heritage”, said Konstantin Kreiser, EU Policy Manager at BirdLife International in Brussels.
"Once again we have an example how the EU Birds Directive can help our common natural heritage” —Konstantin Kreiser, EU Policy Manager at BirdLife International in Brussels
“Malta needs to come in line with the Birds Directive and ban spring hunting. At the same time, as we have said many times before, Maltese hunters have every right to continue their practice during the autumn hunting season within the parameters of the law, and respecting the list of huntable species” said Joseph Mangion, BirdLife Malta’s President.
The Maltese islands are located on an important bird migration route in the Mediterranean. A recent study analysing ring recoveries in Malta, showed that birds originating from a minimum of thirty-six European countries have been recorded migrating over Malta.
At the same time, conservationists across Europe remain concerned about illegal hunting of protected species in Malta (like raptors and herons), and a lack of adequate police enforcement.
“The ALE, the Maltese police unit dealing with illegal hunting, is heavily under-resourced and struggles to keep up with the scale of illegalities. We expect the Prime Minister to use this Court Ruling as an opportunity to now focus on clamping down on illegal hunting - which has tarnished Malta’s reputation over the years”, concluded Mr Mangion.
This year BirdLife Malta will run its annual international raptor monitoring camp between 12 September and 4 October. Maltese and international ornithologists join this camp with the express aim collect data on bird migration, and to curtail illegal hunting activities by informing the Maltese police force where needed, while respecting any hunting activities that stay within the legal framework.
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Credits: BirdLife European Division, BirdLife Malta