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A new impulse to curb hunting on Malta is required

the European union must force the pace of compliance with legislation

Recent utterances from Brussels are causing concern among MEPs and those who have long campaigned for a complete stop to hunting and trapping of birds on Malta. These suggest that the European Commission might to be toning down its stand on spring hunting in Malta and has officially admitted that the government had discussed an exemption from a specific article of the Birds Directive during accession negotiations. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas made the admission in reply to a series of thorny questions submitted by 14 MEPs from various political groups represented in the European Parliament.

While restating that the Commission did not grant an exemption to Malta, Mr Dimas acknowledged that the Commission was aware of the existence of a document, drafted in 2002, which makes unambiguous reference to Malta's intentions to seek a derogation for the hunting of Turtle Dove and Quail in spring."The Commission is also aware that the Maltese government has mentioned in its derogation report under article nine of the Birds Directive that during Malta's accession negotiations, agreement had been reached that Malta would apply for a derogation under article nine of the Birds Directive for the taking of two species in spring." In his reply, Mr Dimas referred MEPs to the text of the EU common position - often quoted by the government to justify its position when attacked on this issue - which clearly lays down that the issue was discussed in detail between the government and the EU.

Mr Dimas added that the Commission took note of the progress made by Malta in complying with the Birds Directive and mentioned the examples of recent changes in hunting regulations, increased sanctions, reinforced cooperation with the police and educational programmes. However, he said the Commission was also aware of enforcement problems due to limited resources. He added that the Commission was discussing with the Maltese authorities potential areas of cooperation to support better enforcement, such as possible EU assistance for training programmes aimed at enhanced enforcement efficiency. This is not the strong line that we have been campaigning for over the past few years and not what many EU citizens (and many others worldwide) expected after Malta's accession to the EU.

We must resist any policy of appeasement and continue to lobby the EU to take a firm stance on implementation of European legislation.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

The EU Commission and the European Parliament must be lobbied time and again and encouraged to take positive steps to officially observe, record and act on the excesses by Maltese hunters and the apathy, inaction or plain ineffectiveness of the Maltese authorities. We must not relent in our activity until Malta is a bird hunting-free zone.

You can add you support to this campaign by visiting : http://www.proact-campaigns.net/maltarevisited/spring_2006.html to send a personal text to Mr Dimas or, (and of course additionally) you can join others in signing the online petition at: http://www.petitiononline.com/malta06/petition.html

4th July 2014