The Malta Independent 20 November 2017, Monday

Government blasted for opening trapping season, closing an eye to Floriana bird black market

Friday, 20 October 2017, 11:37 Last update: about 30 days ago

Birdlife Malta and the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) have blasted the government for opening another bird trapping season.

The season opened yesterday and will last until the end of the year.

BirdLife Malta was critical of the decision, noting that Malta was waiting for an imminent verdict in the European Court of Justice case against the derogation of finch trapping. “The trapping derogation was reinstated in 2014 without even being mentioned in any electoral manifesto and hence without an electoral mandate,” the organization said.

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“Trapping is prohibited across the EU and this was made clear even in ECJ Advocate General Eleanor V. E. Sharpston's Opinion delivered in July,” Birdlife said.

The opinion had found that Malta had no judicious cause to trap birds and questioned the level of enforcement and supervision.

“With almost 4,000 trappers allowed to set their nets on a daily basis, the probability of having the quotas reached and surpassed is high. This however will fail to materialise statistically since it is the trappers themselves that have to report their catches,” Birdlife said.

The organization also added that it had seen trapping taking place even before the season had opened.

CABS also slammed the government for opening the season, saying that “it seems that this government is willing to let Malta pay a high price to please a small group of trappers whose selfish hobby has destroyed bird populations, the maltese countryside and Malta´s reputation abroad.”

The ornithologist also slammed the governments’ Wild Bird Regulation Unit (WBRU) and Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Rights Clint Camillieri for “falsely claiming that trapping is being rigorously monitored.”

It said the opposite is the case, with more than 50 cases of illegal trapping reported by CABS this year alone.

CABS said the police said the police reacted too late to the reports and a totally uncontrolled black market for wild-caught birds was blooming.

CABS especially criticised the police and WBRU for not doing anything to prevent the illegal mass-sale of wild birds on the Sunday market in Floriana, which is being held every week close to the Porte des Bombes,and which it described as one of the central hubs for the illegal bird trade on Malta.

No proper inspections are being carried out at the market, located mnutes away from the police HQ, despite the fact that hundreds of finches and other European birds are being offered for sale.

The autumn trapping season will run until 31 December, the government announced on Thursday.

The overall national bag limit for finches has remained the same as last year, at 12,000 for linnet, 800 for goldfinch, 4,500 for greenfinch, 2,350 for siskin, 500 for hawfinch, 5,000 for chaffinch and 2,350 for serin as the total number of birds which may be captured under the authority of all issued licences taken together. Individual licensed live-capturers have an individual season’s bag limit of ten finches.

The overall national bag limit for golden plover has been set at 700, whilst the national bag limit for song thrush is 5,000.

The government said that, in accordance with Ornis Committee’s recommendations, the season’s individual bag limit for golden plover and song thrush will not apply to this year’s season.

“The uptake of the applicable individual and national bag limits will be monitored in real time through a telephonic reporting system. Amongst other license conditions, live-capturers are legally bound to immediately report their catches through a telephone system on the number stipulated in their Special Licence. Compliance and adherence to licence conditions will be rigorously monitored and enforced through spot-checks and inspections conducted by law enforcement officers.”

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