With reference to the coordination of theatrical actions carried out yesterday by BirdLife Malta and their German partners, CABS, in an attempt to create undue pressure on the Court in the turtle doves hunting Case which first sitting will be held later today, the Federation for Hunting and Conservation – Malta (FKNK) is making the following observations and comments:
It is being brought to the attention of the police, that the BirdLife Malta personnel who were in possession of a dead turtle dove yesterday in front of Castile have committed a crime according to the law;
The Government's attention is drawn to the extreme arrogance of the President of BirdLife Malta who yesterday also publicly said that the people should not believe the figures (of hunted birds) of the official reports published by the Government!
The guarantee that turtle dove hunting in the spring will still be permitted with Malta a Member State of the EU, apart from many other vote-catching promises, was also given in 2004 through two official letters that were sent to all Maltese and Gozitan hunters and trappers from Castile bearing the Prime Minister's signature, and it was also supposed to be one of 77 special arrangements that Malta made with the EU.
On 10 September 2009, as a result of the judgment of the European Court, Malta established the principle that the hunting of turtle doves in the autumn does not constitute a satisfactory alternative solution to the hunting of the species in the spring. Therefore, after a two-year suspension, Malta again applied its right derogate from the EU "Birds" Directive to allow the hunting of turtle doves from the spring of 2010;
In 2014 - 2015, BirdLife Malta, in alliance with several other organizations, legally forced the Maltese Government to call the first ever direct Abrogative Referendum, in another effort to abolish spring hunting from the Maltese islands. On 11 April 2015, the FKNK obtained the result in the historic victory of the Referendum vote;
In May 2015 the EU Commission withdrew the respective infringement procedures it had pending against Malta.
As a result of the imposition of a voluntary Moratorium, for the years 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, turtle dove hunting in spring was not allowed. While since the autumn of 2017, up till which year the turtle dove hunting season used to last for a full five months (September to January), this season has only been opened during the month of September.
Thanks to the proposals put forward by the FKNK, in March 2022, the Malta Ornis Committee recommended the lifting of the Moratorium and the opening of a 14 half-days’ season for hunting turtle in April of the same year with a national bag limit of 1500 turtle doves (this amount is part of the annual bag limit of 2000 turtle doves proposed by the EU itself. In fact, the difference of 500 was applied during the autumn hunting season);
Before the hunting season opened in the spring of 2022, BirdLife Malta submitted a Mandate of Inhibition in Court similar to the one it submitted this year in order to prevent the spring hunting season from opening. Thanks to the wisdom of the Court, the Mandate was rejected, the Moratorium was lifted and the spring season of 2022 was opened as had been recommended by the Malta Ornis Committee.
During the last meeting of the Malta Ornis Committee, the FKNK submitted several documents with its proposals for the opening of the hunting season for this spring 2023 with the following details:
During the turtle doves autumn hunting seasons of September 2021 and 2022, the FKNK collected statistics of the harvested turtle doves divided between juveniles and adults, the results of which clearly indicated a positive measure of sustainability of hunting the species. One should also be informed that this type of Survey was proposed by the European Commission itself, and the FKNK undertook it with the voluntary participation of its members;
During the turtle dove hunting season of spring 2022, through a Scientific Study, the FKNK arrived at what is called a positive "Sustainable Index" of 0.703, which basically indicates that 70% of the turtle doves, which could possibly have been taken by hunting, were not taken. Once again this Study was possible with the voluntary participation of members from the FKNK;
A turtle dove from the FKNK respective Project, which was harnessed with a satellite transmitter and released into the wild in 2021 ended up in Bulgaria, while two other turtle doves, also harnessed with a transmitter each, which were released into the wild in 2022, completed their journey once again in Bulgaria and Kosovo. These two countries, of particular interest being Bulgaria, where according to BirdLife International (2017), every year, from 35,000 to 100,000 pairs of turtle doves nest, until now were not part of the so-called "reference population countries", that is those countries where the turtle doves that migrate through the Maltese islands nest, and on which collective number of nesting pairs the national bag limit of how many turtle doves can be taken by hunting is worked out. However, and despite this increase in the "reference population countries", for this year the FKNK did not request an increase on last year's quota of 1500;
The FKNK turtle doves’ Project also achieved one of its primary objectives, the "compensatory measure". This is because, from 2017 (when the Project was launched) until 2022, the official figure of how many turtle doves were taken by hunting in the Maltese islands amounted to 2134, while the amount of turtle doves that were released into wild thanks to the Project in the same period is 2800.
Based on all this, the Malta Ornis Committee voted in favour of recommending the proposals of the FKNK for turtle dove hunting on 14 half-days on and between the 17th and the 30th of April 2023 with a national bag limit of 1500 turtle doves.
In consideration of all this, as briefly explained above, the FKNK cannot help but feel disgusted by the boundless arrogance, the deception through unsupported allegations, and the lack of respect of BirdLife Malta and their friends, in the face of the Government, the Courts of Malta as well as Europe and the will of all the Maltese and Gozitan people. On the other hand, the FKNK will await and respect the outcome of the Court in the Case which will be heard today at 2:00 pm, and where a delegation from the Council of the FKNK will be present.