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BirdLife International strongly condemns the opening of the new spring hunting season in Malta


12 Apr 2010


Health & Consumers
Sustainable Dev.



Brussels, 9 April 2010 - Today’s shameful decision by the Maltese  Government to open the spring hunting season in 2010 is a set back for nature conservation, which is particularly disturbing as 2010 is supposed to be the ‘International Year of Biodiversity’. 

“The EU just missed its target of halting the decline of biodiversity but the Maltese Government seems more interested in appeasing its domestic hunting lobby than in safeguarding one of Europe’s major migration highways”, commented Ariel Brunner, BirdLife Europe’s Head of EU Policy.

BirdLife International believes that the decision contravenes EU legislation and stresses that Malta has already been condemned by the European Court of Justice for allowing spring hunting in the past. 

Notes for the editor

[1] Illegality of the derogation under EU law - Contrary to Maltese Government claims that the new derogation conforms to the requirements of the EU Birds Directive, it clearly fails to satisfy key conditions required by EU legislation:

-         Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur and Common Quail Coturnix coturnix are in unfavourable conservation status in Europe and as required by the Commission’s guidance on hunting, no derogation for these species should be allowed. 

-         The extent of illegal shooting, already ongoing and amply documented, completely undermines the claims of the Government to be able to enforce the bag limits and other conditions under which the derogation is supposed to take place.

[2] Background information - The European Commission had taken Malta to Court in January 2008, arguing Malta did not comply with the EU Birds Directive, since it had allowed spring hunting of the mentioned two species since EU accession in 2004. 

Throughout the EU Birds Directive bans hunting of birds during their breeding period and during their spring migration back from Africa. Member States can apply derogations to this under certain conditions.

Now the Court concluded, that spring hunting as it was carried out since 2004 has not complied with these conditions. 


Following a request from the European Commission, already in 2008 the Court had issued an “interim measure” ordering Malta not to open a spring hunting season ( In 2009 the government of Malta then decided on its own initiative to wait until a final ruling was given. BirdLife sees this as a clear sign that the government will from now on respect the Birds Directive and never open spring hunting again.

More information at 

[3] BirdLife International is a global Partnership of nature conservation organisations working in more than 100 countries and territories. BirdLife is the leading authority on the status of birds, their habitats and the problems affecting them, and is working on a wide range of environmental issues. BirdLife has 42 Partners in Europe, and is represented in all 27 Member States.

For more information about the work of the BirdLife European Division:   



For more information, please contact:

Alessia Pautasso, Communication & Media Officer at BirdLife International 

+32 2 541 07 81


Rastislav Rybanic, EU Nature Policy Officer

0032 496 73 06 86



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