Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia Press Release - 21 June 2018

The End: Finch trapping in Malta finally ruled illegal by European Court

The barbaric trapping of finches in Malta has been ruled illegal by the European Court of Justice today [1]. Since 2014, over 110 000 finches have been captured using nets and traps, a direct violation of the EU Birds Directive [2]. Malta risks receiving severe fines unless it ends this practice.

Finch trapping was made illegal in Malta back in 2009, however, the introduction of a derogation in 2014 allowed for the trapping of seven finch species once again [3]. These include Eurasian siskins, European goldfinches, European serins, common linnets, European greenfinches, common chaffinches and hawfinches.

Finch trapping has many devastating effects for the environment. Apart from the eradication of these song birds, thousands of other wildlife end up caught in the nets and traps as well. Furthermore, vast areas of land are cleared annually to allow for the installation of traps. It is estimated that the land used for trapping is equivalent to 42 football pitches. With the majority of these trapping sites situated on public land in Natura 2000 sites, given their special ecological importance, this abuse is especially outrageous.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife Europe:

“We salute The European Court of Justice finch trapping ruling that Malta is in breach of the EU Birds Directive. Today’s court judgment sends a message that, despite these troubled times, the rule of law must be respected. It should mark the end of indiscriminate trapping, which is a completely unsustainable and barbaric practice.”

Credit must also go to BirdLife Malta and the EU’s Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella and his team whose work pushed this important work forward to today’s successful verdict.


For more information, please contact:

Barbara Herrero, EU Nature Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe

+32 2541 0780


Notes for editors:

[1] European Court of Justice ruling press release:

[2] 110 000 finches have been trapped in Malta since 2014, violating the EU Birds Directive

[3] Finch trapping in Malta explained:

BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organisations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to deliver high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that compose BirdLife International. Based in Brussels, it supports the European and Central Asian Partnership and is present in 47 countries including all EU Member States. With more than 4100 staff in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of skilled volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 nature sites totalling 320,000 hectares.