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BirdLife Malta "…is against hunting in every season,..." – Malta First Chamber Civil Court

Malta Civil Court First Chamber, 9 April 2024, Mandate of Inhibition Number 556/2024/1, BirdLife Malta (BLM) vs Government of Malta. The Court presided over by the Honourable Judge Dr. Francesco Depasquale, rejected the Mandate of BLM which was requesting the non-opening of the hunting season of turtle doves and quails in spring 2024 as recommended by the Malta Ornis Committee to the Minister on a proposal that had been tabled by the Federation for Hunting and Conservation – Malta (FKNK) at the last meeting of the Committee.

This was the third year in a row that BLM filed a similar Mandate on the eve of the opening of the spring hunting season and also the third year in a row that such mandates were rejected and consequently the BLM was reprimanded, by the three different judges who presided over the three cases.  So much so, that in part of the sentence given by the Honourable Judge Depasquale today he said:

"- this cannot but be seen as a clear and glaring case of 'forum shopping' where the applicant Association (BLM) tries its luck with a claim identical to that of previous years, hoping that someone different will accept it."

The FKNK notes that the Court based a substantial part of its sentence on the intervention of the FKNK, since the Court was hearing the Appeal that the FKNK had made to intervene in the case as an interested party since the FKNK represents the largest number of hunters and trappers in the Maltese islands, apart from being the largest non-governmental organization (NGO) in Maltese society.  The FKNK's verbal intervention was made by the FKNK's Advocate, Dr. Kathleen Calleja Grima and through the presentation of the report published a few weeks ago by the FKNK "FKNK Critique of the BirdLife Malta Conservation Status Report - Turtle Dove (March 2024)" - Attached.

In other parts of its verdict, the Court stated some very relevant and important points, such as:

"41. However, here the Court cannot but agree with the submissions made by the Federation for Hunting and Conservation - Malta (FKNK), where it was observed that, even though the applicant Association, as well as other entities, contend that the loss of turtle doves is attributable, among other things, to the killing of such birds during their migratory journey from Africa to Europe, it is very difficult to consider that it is the hunting in the two weeks of April on the small island of Malta, where it is allowed to take up to a maximum of 1,500 turtle doves over a period of fourteen days, as being the main cause of the decrease in the population of turtle doves in Europe and in the world, as seems to be insisting the applicant Association."


"42. The Court understands that the applicant Association is against hunting in every season, as del resto even stated in its oral submissions, and will continue to fight until the hunting season is closed..."

Finally, the FKNK wants to thank the strong political will of the Government in its belief to defend the socio-cultural tradition of hunting in spring and the Government’s defence in this case, and wishes great seasons to its member hunters for quail hunting from 10 to 30 April 2024 and for turtle doves from 17 to 30 April 2024.

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