Ornis recommendation on finch trapping will set bird conservation back 5 years – BLM
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BirdLife Malta has said yesterday’s approval by Ornis of a proposal to re-legalise the banned practice of finch trapping will set bird conservation in Malta back five years.
“It is incomprehensible that the government will now be considering reintroducing this outlawed and environmentally indefensible practice just to placate the trapping lobby,” said BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager, Nicholas Barbara.Trapping wild songbirds became illegal in Malta in 2009, after a five-year phasing-out period negotiated as part of Malta’s EU Accession Treaty agreement. The change brought Malta’s national wildlife protection laws into line with Europe’s Wild Birds directive, which guarantee protected status to wild finches and prohibit songbird trapping due to the activity’s ability to decimate wild bird populations.
“There is just no valid reason to take songbirds from the wild,” Mr Barbara said, “Finches readily breed in captivity, so people are still able to keep caged birds perfectly legally. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
BLM said that “on Sunday, the Times of Malta published an article revealing that FKNK and ‘independent’ Government appointed representatives on Malta’s ORNIS Committee would be voting in favour of legalising finch-trapping at yesterday’s Ornis meeting.”
“And that is exactly what happened,” said Mr Barbara, who also represents BirdLife Malta on ORNIS.
He added, “despite concerns raised by BirdLife Malta during the meeting, the proposal to re-legalise finch trapping was passed thanks to FKNK, MEPA and the three Government appointed representatives voting in favour of recommending a derogation. BirdLife Malta alone voted against the proposal.”
“This is the result of collaboration between the FKNK and Wild Birds Regulation Unit, and is just another step on the road of the government policy of appeasing the hunting and trapping lobby, even if it means challenging Malta’s EU Accession Treaty,” said Mr Barbara.
Malta has to date received two formal warnings from the European Commission after recent trapping seasons were judged to be in breach of the Birds Directive. The Commission cited habitat damage , inadequate enforcement and the impact on protected songbirds (finches) as a result of widespread illegal trapping.
“To simply ignore these warnings and seek to circumvent wildlife regulations by applying unjustified derogations shows a complete lack of concern for the protection of wildlife and habitats in Malta,” concluded Mr Barbara.
Photos: An ‘illegal finch trapping site in Gozo’ photographed by BirdLife Malta last year. And, 2 caged Linnets, “a protected species, being used as decoys for illegal trapping”: BirdLife Malta