It is known that around 170 bird species migrate through Malta. Many arrive tired, attempt to replenish their energy reserves and then move on to their more northern breeding grounds. Given it's on a major migratory pathway many raptors attempt to overfly the island , but are blasted from the skies by "hunters", as are birds resting up in woodland areas and elsewhere.
In 2004 Malta was allowed to join the European Community whose Birds Directive prohibits spring shooting. They have attempted to open the spring hunting season in every year since, but were prevented from doing so in 2008 and 2009 through interim measures brought in by the European Court of Justice. Even then Malta was found to be in breach of certain conditions. The Government is again considering a "limited spring hunting season". Such is not in its gift as far as I am concerned, confirms its arrogance and lack of willingness to abide by EU legislation and, therefore, invites counter measures to be brought in until such time as it adheres to the due requirements.
The amount of money and effort which has already gone into dealing with this ignorant, stupid Government is beyond belief and could have easily funded many conservation initiatives on the island several times over. Such, in time, would lead to a more buoyant tourism base. It is my belief that the EU now needs to get tough and issue a final "ultimatum", instead of continuing to pursue a policy of persuasion.
- all grant monies to the Maltese Government should be suspended
- no further applications for support should be allowed
- fines relating to the non-adherence to the EU Birds Directive should be levied
- continuing membership of the EU should placed in jeopardy
At a personal level we too can apply "sanctions " of our own. If you're considering having a holiday in Malta......don't! Indeed write to holiday companies and urge them to withdraw their interests in the island until such time as matters tangibly improve. Above all, sign the petition, for which details are given below. Whilst you may not live in Europe, we still need your support ( as the title suggests " Birdlife International" is a global community ! ).
In recent times Birdlife Malta staff have suffered intimidation, criminal damage, arson attacks and violence. A Birdlife Ranger has been shot at and injured twice! We need to demonstrate our support for the work they are doing and, at the very least, indicate our condemnation of the Maltese Government's actions. In all twenty years of being involved with the RSPB I never ever expected to come out of a crucial meeting, where emotions had run high and public feeling was divided, and find my car had been set on fire!! It begs the question whether the Maltese Government have control of the situation or whether a majority of its members have a vested interest in the issue.