€300,000 tender for ‘scientific’ bird ringing services cancelled a second time

Nobody submitted a bid for what is widely seen as "a scam" by the government to permit trapping outlawed by the EU.


A tender calling for bidders for a ‘research project’ on bird-ringing services has been cancelled for a second time after nobody submitted a bid for what is widely seen as “a scam” by the government to permit trapping outlawed by the EU.

The tender for these services, estimated at a value of €300,000, was based on a contested derogation the government filed in 2020 following the EU Commission’s decision to institute infringement proceedings against Malta.

In simple terms, the government is attempting to continue to permit trapping under the guise of scientific research. This, after a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in 2018 that saw the end of finch trapping once and for all.

The Maltese government opted to disregard this ruling and allow trapping under a  derogation disguised as scientific research.

This irked the EU commission. In November 2021, after opening a new infringement process, it issued a statement saying it would take Malta to the European Court again.

The tender issued by the Gozo ministry stipulated that finches are to be caught by “licensed data-collectors” and ringed by “bird ringers” engaged by the winning bidder.

Since trappers are not qualified conservationists, the government believes that if it acquires licensed and recognised ringers, it will give the project a semblance of scientific research before the EU.

Yet no licensed bird ringers seem to want to be caught up in the “scam”, despite the tender being issued twice.

The science can’t be bought

The derogation allows for ‘scientific research’ involving clap-net systems, which means live decoy birds would be used to trap other birds. The derogation is limited to seven species of finch.

Bird ringers are licensed by Euring, a European network that is authorised to license ringers because it ensures observance of international criteria.

Anyone who participates in a project like that suggested by the government, which seeks to meet political rather than conservation goals, risks losing the licence.

“It comes as no surprise that no one bid for such a tender, mainly because scientists have one thing that they will always care for, and that is their credibility. Since this tender is purposely designed to get scientists on board to justify a scam scientific derogation and try to convince the European Union somehow that what they are doing is scientific, very few or none at all would be so gullible not to see through this plot,” Birdlife Malta CEO Mark Sultana told The Shift.

“In fact, the European Union is so convinced about this illegal derogation that they have already referred Malta to the European Court of Justice on this,” he added.

In November last year, conservation NGO Birdlife Malta filed a judicial protest against the government for opening the season year after year without consulting with stakeholders and in defiance of EU directives.

The derogation has also been criticised for lax oversight. While trappers are, legally speaking, only allowed to trap, ring and release the birds after recording details about the physiology of each specimen, there is virtually no enforcement since nobody would be actively monitoring proceedings.


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22 days ago

Gov Malta ringed by their own loopholes 🙂

16 days ago

Compared to Air Malta Fiasco that’s nothing.
Golden Vote Holders Only!
More expenditure Air Malta
Workers who opt for a golden handshake are being offered anything between €40,000 and €300,000.
The government is offering €40,000 to those who have served up to five years; €80,000 to those serving 5-10 years; €120,000 for 10-15 years of service; €150,000 for 15-20 years of service; €180,000 for 20-25 years; €210,000 for 25-30; and €240,000 for those of over 30 years of service.

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