Malta lost its case on finch trapping at the Europe Court of Justice, which will hopefully finally settle a matter that has been dragging on since 2015 despite the practice being in clear breach of EU law.
Reacting to the Court’s judgment, the European Commission said it confirmed the Commission’s position that there is no justification for finch trapping in Malta.
“Finches are strictly protected under the EU Birds Directive. Malta had to end finch trapping by the end of 2008 after a transition period it had negotiated when acceding to the EU had expired. The Commission now expects Malta to fully respect the Court’s judgement and to stop this practice once and for all,” the Commission said in a statement.
Governments have pandered to the hunting and trapping lobby since Malta joined the EU even though trapping was clearly outlawed under EU rules. Finch trapping was phased out after the island joined the EU but was later reintroduced after Labour swept to power.
Derogations were put in place that ‘permitted’ a practice in clear violation of EU law, despite very clear warnings by the environmental lobby that Malta could never win a case that breached EU rules.
Both government have dragged the country through lengthy and expensive court cases to defend the indefensible. In that sense, the judgment comes as no surprise.
BirdLife has estimated that more than 110,000 finches may have died as a result of finch trapping in Malta since 2014.
The result does not only impact wildlife but the quality of life of Maltese citizens – a large number of trapping sites were located on public land and even in protected Natura 2000 sites.