Malta’s missed opportunity – statement from BirdLife Malta

Malta-CIA_WFB_MapAlthough the result is not yet official, it seems certain that the Maltese people have voted 51:49 in favour of spring hunting.

Steve Micklewright, Director of BirdLife Malta, one of the organisations leading the campaign to abolish spring hunting said, “This was an incredible opportunity for the people of Malta to stop the senseless killing of migrating birds on their way to breed in other parts of Europe by 10,000 hunters who occupy this tiny nation’s countryside in springtime.

Malta is the only country in Europe to allow the killing of turtle dove and quail in spring. Both species have suffered serious decline across Europe, with turtle dove numbers plummeting by 77% since 1980. Many other types of rare and protected birds are also targeted by hunters during the spring hunting season.

Spring hunting is prohibited under EU law, as it kills the adult birds who are returning north to breed, thereby having a negative impact on population numbers. The birds migrating through Malta in spring are destined for several other EU countries, meaning that Malta’s decision has serious impacts for bird conservation across Europe.

The referendum was called for by Maltese citizens, 43,000 of whom signed a petition to ask for the abrogative referendum to be held. While the outcome was not what environmental campaigners had hoped for, the process has nonetheless been hailed as putting nature and environmental issues firmly on the agenda.

Micklewright said “Although we are disappointed with the result, to have elevated this issue to national and European level is an incredible achievement. Thousands of Maltese people have been engaged in the debate and empowered to take a decision on their environment. Thousands voted to end spring hunting and we are sure that those people will continue to act as champions of Maltese and European nature protection. This in itself cannot be underestimated.


10 Replies to “Malta’s missed opportunity – statement from BirdLife Malta”

  1. I know it was always seen by the Maltese conservationists as a bad idea in the past as it might lead to hurting the whole island’s population and causing more conflict – but isnt it time now for the rest of europe to show its distaste for this slaughter by calling for a tourism boycott?…I know I could no longer go there for a holiday, not knowing if the man in the shop, selling ice cream, running my hotel, walking past me on the street has a hobby involving blasting increasingly rare birds out of the sky.

  2. I agree. Hunting is still in contravention of EU law yet the authorities seem unwilling to back the law. Though I lived in Malta as a child and my parents got married in Valetta, I would certainly not consider visiting that country again while they continue to allow such a barbaric pastime. Tourism is important to the country and by ignoring it as a holiday destination it might get the government and people to understand just how barbaric their actions are.

    1. Dennis – you’d think so – unfortunately I think all EU Member States are breaking some of the rules, so it’s difficult to get progress on that!

      1. & mirrors the situation of the Hen Harrier persecution here?

        Yes, it’s illegal persecution here, but derogation for Malta for some species ….

  3. A Euripe wide tourism boycott would be welcome but my personal boycott will continue. One of the few places in Europe I’ve not been.

  4. Why not do the opposite and go on mass to enjoy the birds that are not shot! Then you are showing the shop keeper and the hotel owner what they are missing as far as income especially as the majority of bird watching is done outside the peak tourist season. The majority of tourists [1 million of them] don’t give a monkeys for wildlife only by going can you make a difference as I did a few years ago. I walked around the guns with a scope, bins and camera and no one gave me grief. There are still plenty of areas which are protected and need bird watchers to be there to make sure the gun men keep out. Remember flights can be as cheap as £30.00 one way from most airports. Not many places in Europe are so cheap!

    1. John, to my mind going to Malta on holiday would be like condoning the shooting. There are plenty of places to go where our migrants are not being massacred and I’d rather support them. I don’t go to Israel because they massacre Palestinians. I went once in 1998 when the Oslo peace process was in full flow and things were looking up but since then it’s all gone pear shaped. I’m sure one man boycotts do not change the world but they make me feel I’m doing something right.

      1. Phil – since you aren’t in charge of everyone else then your one man boycotts are the best you can do. Well done!

        I’ve given up murdering people as my contribution towards world peace. Some say that one man can’t make much of a difference, but I think I can – and so would they if I changed my mind and approached them with a knife.

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