BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Maltese hunters who trap and trade finches are breaching EU law, Europe’s top court ruled on Thursday.
The case against Malta was brought to the European Court of Justice by the European Commission in 2015, after the country voted in a referendum to continue the hunting of migratory birds, a centuries-old tradition illegal everywhere else in the EU.
The European Commission said the islanders’ trapping of the birds was a threat to the species and the court agreed. Malta could face a fine if it fails to comply with the ruling.
EU law allows member nations to seek exemption from regulations protecting specific bird species if hunting can be done in controlled conditions.
However, Thursday’s judgment said that Maltese hunters’ recreational trapping does not comply with EU law as the birds are not being trapped on a selective basis or in small numbers.
“The 2014 and 2015 measures authorising the autumn trapping of finches do not comply with the directive since they do not contain any reference to the absence of another satisfactory solution,” the court said on Thursday.
Reporting by Megan Dollar; Editing by Alison Williams