The Maltese Government has taken note of the two Letters of Formal Notice sent by the European Commission regarding the research derogation to allow the trapping of finches in Malta and the enforcement of the general system of protection of wild birds and of derogations to allow trapping and hunting of wild birds in Malta.
Whilst noting that replies will be provided within the stipulated timeframe, the Government remains committed to defend the interests and protect the rights of Maltese and Gozitan hunters and trappers, as these rights are protected in various other European Member States.
The Government is convinced that the derogations applied are in conformity with the European Union’s Birds Directive and it is to be noted that a higher system of enforcement is applied locally beyond that demanded by the European Commission itself.
With regard to the trapping of Golden Plover and Song Thrush, the Maltese Government recalls that it was the European Commission itself that requested amendments to the national legal framework in order to conform with the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union on the trapping of songbirds. The Government also recalls that it was the Court of Justice itself that declared, in 2009, that in the case of Malta, there is no other solution to the hunting of pigeons and quail in Malta.
In November 2019, the European Commission asked the Maltese authorities to further analyse the reference population of the two species of bird. The Ornis Committee subsequently unanimously agreed that a research project on the reference population of Golden Plover and Song Thrush takes place.
The Maltese Government remains committed to continue discussing the matter with the European Commission in order to clarify the various divergences, whilst ensuring that the traditional hobby of hunters and trappers remains protected with full respect to the legislation in place and not accepting any abuse.