Letter in a battle – Spring Migrant Massacre on Malta

Malta-CIA_WFB_MapThis letter was sent to the EU Environment Commissioner on 24 April about the role of the European Commission in sorting out the Spring massacre of migrants in Malta.

Here is a quote from it:

In view of the abundant evidence presented to the European Commission about the systemic failures in the application of the derogation, we, the undersigned, consider this to be wholly unsatisfactory state of affairs and we request that you reconsider your position about opening new infringement cases against Malta forthwith.”

I am glad that the following UK MEPs signed this letter:

Catherine Bearder (LibDem SE England)
Andrew Duff (Lib Dem E England)
Ashley Fox (Con SW England)
Victoria Grace Ford (Con E England)
Jill Evans (Plaid Cymru Wales)
Julie Girling (Con SW England)
Fiona Hall (Lib Dem NE England)
Ian Hudghton (SNP Scotland) (added his name after letter had been sent)
Jean Lambert (Green London)
Sarah Ludford (Lib Dem London)
Bill Newton Dunn (Lib Dem E Midlands)
Charles Tannock (Con London)
Keith Taylor (Green E England)
Derek Vaughan (Lab Wales)
Glenis Willmott (Lab E Midlands)
Marina Yannakoudakis (Con London)



Flag_of_Europe.svgWell done to those MEPs who signed – they may deserve to be considered for your vote on 22 May.  I have emailed all of them to thank them for signing and I suggest that you do too, particularly if any of them represents you.

Not all, not by any means all, UK MEPs were invited to sign this letter so the absence of a name on this list does not mean that the MEP refused to sign up.  However, in the run up to the European election on 22 May why not email your MEPs (you have several) and ask them whether they do, or don’t, support this letter. (How to contact your MEP – click here).

If you copy me in on the email (mark@markavery.info) and ask your MEP to copy me on their reply, then we can compile a list of MEPs who are prepared to stand up for migrant birds, those that are too rude to reply and those who refuse to stand up for threatened European wildlife.  That would be a list worth having as you enter the ballot box, and a list of quite some value after 22 May too.  I’ll update the list at least weekly over the next month.

There are 73 UK MEPs – 16 have called on the European Commission to take more active and robust measures to ensure that Malta protects migrant birds.  You can help to get many more UK MEPs to support this measure.



“In view of the abundant evidence presented to the European Commission about the systemic failures in the application of the derogation, we, the undersigned, consider this to be wholly unsatisfactory state of affairs and we request that you reconsider your position about opening new infringement cases against Malta forthwith.” – See more at: http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/2014/04/24/keith-demands-urgent-eu-action-on-maltas-bird-massacre/#sthash.JwqsN7cj.dpuf



15 Replies to “Letter in a battle – Spring Migrant Massacre on Malta”

  1. I went round George Lyon, Chris Davies and Graham Watson on Saturday when Chris Packham was in pokey and had support from all of them. There are a couple more who are old friends of mine, but for whom I don’t have email addies. A letter is beyond my skillset

  2. I wrote to all three of my MEPs (NE England) and from comments posted in various places it is clear that I was certainly not alone in doing so. Only one of the three, Fiona Hall, signed this letter and she was the only one to reply to me. It is a shame that the Labour and Conservative MEPs apparently did not consider this important enough to respond to. This will certainly affect my vote in May.

  3. I was surprised and heartened to receive a quick and in depth response from the MEP I decided to contact. My choices included Nigel Farage, so was a bit limited! I am more than happy to copy you in Mark if confidentiliaty of personal details are upheld.

  4. All six Yorkshire & Humber MEPs written to. Two replies received back to date.

    One of the Y&H group is a Vice President, so hoping to receive that reply soon along with the other three as 22 May draws nearer.

    Both replies are pretty much as expected, somewhat placatory and lacking in proactive determination or strength of resolve. But critical mass will hopefully persuade them to take a stronger stance?

    The UK has 73 MEPs from a European Parliament of 766 (751 after 2014) and 22 May is a key date obviously. Twenty UK MEPs are mentioned in the Potocnik letter, so what of the other 53 UK MEPs?

    Let’s hope the Maltese massacre also raises the profile of the UK variation in terms of Harriers and Kites, which of the big NGOs will seriously pick this challenge up?

    1. I did the same and got the same – from Timothy Kirkhope who copied and pasted in a lot of material without much clarification on what he was actually doing or prepared to do about the issue, and from Rebecca Taylor, whose letter (copied below) was more succinct and read more plausibly (she seemed to care) but contained less factual information. I attempted a follow up email to Timothy Kirkhope but have had no reply this time around. I suspect both responses are being mass produced to fob off the sudden weight of voter interest and remain sceptical about the potential of our MEPs to affect any change.

      Dear Hugh,

      Thank you for your email regarding the hunting and trapping of migrating birds in Malta.

      As you mention in your email, the EU’s Birds Directive 2009 bans activities which directly threaten wild bird species, including the deliberate killing or capture of birds. In 2008 the European Court of Justice ordered the Maltese Government to limit spring hunting and ruled that bird trapping should be banned too.

      It is however worrying that birds continue to be cruelly trapped and killed on Malta despite the activity supposedly being restricted. I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues take the protection of wild birds very seriously, whether the problem is in the UK or elsewhere in the world.

      My colleague Fiona Hall, Lib Dem MEP for the North East region, recently wrote to the Maltese Department for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change.

      The Ministry’s response stated that Malta is fully committed to the implementation of the Birds Directive 2009/147/EC. With specific regard to Article 9 which states that a limited number of activities normally prohibited by the Birds Directive may be allowed under strict provisions, the Ministry says that any derogation applied by Malta “adhere strictly to the relevant legal and environmental parameters.”
      However, groups such as the RSPB and Birdlife Malta have a much less positive view of Malta’s adherence to the requirements of the Directive, and both stress that a lot of work is still required to put pressure on the Maltese Government to help conserve migrants and breeding birds, and ensure that the EU rules regarding birds are fully implemented.

      On 8th April, George Lyon MEP (Scotland) wrote to the European Commission on behalf of Lib Dem MEPs to enquire as to whether any further action is being taken on this issue, and we are currently awaiting a reply from the responsible department. I look forward to reading the Commission’s response and will let you know of any further developments.

      Thank you again for raising this issue with me and please be assured that the illegal trapping of birds in Malta is of great concern to me.

      Yours sincerely,
      Rebecca Taylor MEP

      1. I rather think that the Y&H MEPs will be receiving a fair few pieces of correspondence.

        But perhaps if there is sufficient follow up then perhaps they’ll actually do something beyond a ‘standard’ response which is what I too received from the two MEPs Hugh mentions. Let’s see what Edward McMillan-Scott a Vice President comes back to us all with?

        So, collectively (of Mark’s readership) how many of the 73 UK MEPs can we reach?

        1. Just had the same response as copied above sent to me by a different MEP (Edward McMillan-Scott this time), verbatim. Not sure why I need two different MEPs sending me the same email… Also less convinced by their “personal” concern. I have appealed to both to send their genuinely personalised concerns to the EU Environment commissioner on my behalf. Faint hope.

          1. Sadly, it looks like they are churning out standardised replies, I too received the same as above from EM-S as well as RT, the other from TK was as described above, i.e. cut & paste.

            I replied back to EM-S asking him to be more proactive given he was Vice President of the European Parliament, will let you know how and if he provides a bespoke or tired party line reply. Any sign of the other three Y&H MEPs from anyone else?

            Has anyone any idea how many letters have been written, is there anyway of knowing? What next? I suppose a variation on theme to them (yes MEPs) about the UK Harrier (and raptors in general) situation and continued failure to safeguard perhaps?

  5. I have written to three MEPs on this subject, and had replies from two. Bill Newton Dunn was the most forth coming. I have copied his reply below.

    Please could I be told the law on this, if there is a law.
    The FC are in the process of felling woodland just up the road from me. The wood is adjacent to boggy pasture/moor and is full of the usual delights plus chiff chaffs ,willow warblers etc. Crossbills every winter. We expect the cuckoos any day now. It is a good cuckoo spot. The land beside has so many skylarks I have been avoiding it for weeks when out with the dog. I mention the land, because at the moment it is being cleared of rocks which have been there since the last ice age, and ploughed with one of those deep cutting ploughs that they use in forestry work. As are stretches of the woodland.
    Is there no regulation that prevents such horrible destructive work at this time of year? (If I was a Maltese hunter I would be tempted to say I was saving the birds a wasted journey.)

    From Bill Newton Dunn
    Thanks for the email.
    I have already joined my voice to the many others who are very concerned about this behaviour in Malta.
    Why does the European Commission do nothing to stop it, you wonder ? Because the Commission has no powers to do that. There is no EU FBI police or EU courts or EU army which can go to Malta and impose correct behaviour.
    As the EU (still being developed and built) stands so far, the 28 separate member states have refused to give Brussels any powers of enforcement of the promises which the member states make.
    At present, all responsibility for enforcement of laws rests entirely with the 28 separate national governments.
    So, all that successive Commissioners can do is to write to the Maltese government and remind them of their promises and their obligation to enforce all laws.
    Unfortunately, all member states cheat – including the UK – so in my opinion we need to give Brussels “federal” powers to step in and enforce from the centre, just as Obama can in the USA. Would you agree with that ?
    All good wishes.

    1. Mark would have us believe that companies at least should respect the EU laws (https://markavery.info/2014/04/22/advice-worth-millions/) but I don’t know what powers of enforcement exist over states. The obvious one in Malta’s case would be to turn off the money, given that they are a net recipient of funds from the EU and economic sanctions are all the rage at the moment. Too straightforward for our European Parliament perhaps?

  6. I am pleased to see 2 of the South West MEPs on this letter list and one other behaving in a positive manner. I wonder what the other 3 think.

    MEPs in this area are elected to represent the South West and Gibraltar so you would hope they all had an interest in the movement of birds across their territory. I was interested on Martin Harper’s blog to read that more birds are shot in Spain than in Malta. Perhaps that is more reason to send out the message.

  7. Mark,really good work on your part,just sent off to South West M E Ps and said that of the four on the list Ashley had already signed.
    Copied in your email address and said you were compiling a list.
    Thanks for making it easy for people like myself.
    Think I will thank Julie Girling and ask another one who did not get included when I entered my postcode if they will sign.

  8. Dear Arlene McCarthy, Paul Nuttall, Sajjad Karim, Brian Simpson, Chris Davies, Robert Atkins, Jacqueline Foster and Nick Griffin,

    I am sure you have all heard of the problems in Malta regarding ‘spring hunting’. I write children’s books on birds and my Cuckoo has to travel through Malta [as seen on satellite tagging from other Cuckoos] My book is to be sponsored by the Broads Authority in Norfolk where it is partly set in summer. The authority are now going to sponsor a Cuckoo with satellite tag fitted and name it after the character in the book. How are you going to stop this illegal hunting and make sure my Cuckoo arrives back in Britain in one piece?

    Yours sincerely,

    John Miles

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