Press Release 30 January 2010

Eight Environmental NGOs today joined forces to counter the hunting lobby’s recent demand made to the Prime Minister to reopen spring hunting, warning Dr Lawrence Gonzi not to drag Malta into another case at the European Court of Justice.

BirdLife Malta, Din l-Art Helwa, Friends of the Earth Malta, The Gaia Foundation, Ramblers, MOAM, FAA and Nature Trust Malta reminded the Prime Minister that the Malta Case on spring hunting remains open and should Malta be found guilty a second time, then the country would face hefty fines at the Maltese tax payers’ expense.

Speaking on behalf of the coalition of NGOs BirdLife Malta President Joseph Mangion said: “Shooting of migratory birds just before they breed is not considered as a sustainable hunting practice and this is why the Birds Directive forbids it. Furthermore, the ECJ ruling clearly showed that Malta could not meet the conditions of a derogation”.

Member states have to meet all the conditions set by the Birds Directive to be able to apply derogations. In Malta’s case, the Court ruling concluded that Malta failed to comply with the conditions laid down in the Birds Directive and therefore failed to fulfill its obligations under that directive Despite this fact, the hunting lobby claims that a so-called ‘limited’ spring hunting season should be allowed because the court ruled that autumn does not seem to be an alternative to spring. However, the hunting lobby ignores the fact that Malta failed on the other conditions required for a derogation and thus the court ruled that Malta’s derogation was not lawful.

“In fact, no other Member State has managed to meet all of these conditions under Article 9 and thus spring hunting is banned throughout the EU. It is therefore not only absurd but also irresponsible to continue to press onwards with this issue any further.” NGOs said.

The environmental groups also slammed John Attard Montalto, Labour MEP, who in an article published last Thursday, stated that the Government should open spring hunting season and that he was elected thanks to the support of the hunters.

“As an MEP Mr Attard Montalto has a responsibility towards the country and not only towards certain interest groups. His statement is an insult to Maltese citizens who voted for him but are not in favour of spring hunting. He clearly belongs to the old school of politics and is far removed from the change this country needs in its style of politics,” the NGOs said.

“The opinion polls have repeatedly showed that the overwhelming majority of the Maltese population is against spring hunting. We urge the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to unite and put an end to the spring hunting saga once and for all,” the environmental NGOs concluded.