Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti
The ORNIS committee has accepted recommendations by hunting lobby FKNK to open a trapping season for Song Thrush and Golden Plover, while a recommendation for a ‘research’ period for the trapping of Finches was also accepted, despite ongoing European Commission infringement proceedings.
The committee, a board including hunting lobbyists and environmental groups tasked with advising the government on national hunting policy, will pass the recommendations to Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri for a final decision.
Camilleri, who has historically sided with the hunting lobby on ORNIS’ recommendations, is expected to accept the recommendations despite the practice being outlawed by the European Union and Malta being subject to infringement proceedings.
In a Facebook post following the ORNIS meeting on Tuesday, FKNK claimed the trapping season is expected to be opened subject to last year’s conditions. These allowed for Song Thrush trapping between 20 October and 31 December and Golden Plover trapping between 1 November and 10 January.
Finch trapping was allowed between 20 October and 20 December last year. Opening a Finch trapping season for ‘research’ requires Malta to adopt a derogation regime to depart from regulations under the European Commission’s 2009 Birds Directive.
In response to Malta’s previous derogations from the Birds Directive, the European Commission launched infringement proceedings, leading to the European Union Court of Justice ruling them unlawful in 2018.
Despite the ruling, Malta nevertheless reopened a Finch trapping season in 2020, invoking a derogation for ‘research’ purposes.
That year, the Commission said, “Even though the declared objective is ‘research’, several elements indicate that the scheme – in practice – allows for a large number of birds to be captured without being reported, contrary to the strict conditions for derogations set by the Birds Directive,” leading to the reopening infringement proceedings.
Subsequently, the Commission issued a letter of formal notice in December 2020, a reasoned opinion in June 2021, and, following unsatisfactory answers by the Maltese government, referred the issue to the EU Court of Justice in November 2021.
Previous hunting lobby recommendations adopted by the ORNIS Committee have been widely criticised. In response to a recommendation for opening a Spring hunting season last March, BirdLife Malta said the committee’s recommendations were “based on insufficient data”.
In response, the European Environment Commissioner sent a letter to Camilleri, who oversees hunting-related decisions, expressing his “deepest concerns”. Camilleri vowed to “keep what’s ours, ours.”
The ORNIS Committee comprises three hunting lobby representatives, two BirdLife Malta representatives, one Environment and Resources Authority representative, three government-appointed ‘independent’ representatives, and one birds expert.