Illegal hunting of migratory birds – Malta

In Malta, during the spring and autumn, many migrating and resident birds are illegally and indiscriminately shot both on land and at sea. Songbirds are also trapped to be caged as `pets’. Until 2004, Malta was outside the EU in regard to illegal shooting and trapping, and continued to disregard laws relating to the issue. After much hard work by many organisations, Malta finally accepted in March 2006 that it was in breach of EU law and made changes to its hunting legislation.

Undoubtedly, this was a step in the right direction, though hunting and trapping still takes place. (A recent assessment published in 2016 estimated that around 130,000 birds are still illegally killed on average each year.) Building on the `best practice` model developed in Cyprus and supported by Restore Our Planet in 2006-2008, the RSPB and BirdLife Malta initiated a major project to tackle this problem. The eight areas covered in the project were bird population monitoring; advocacy and lobbying; public awareness; law enforcement; surveillance; pan-Mediterranean co-operation; organisational development; public participation. Restore Our Planet agreed to help fund this project as a logical extension to the positive results achieved in Cyprus.

A migrant osprey, shot and injured in Malta, which later died despite efforts to rehabilitate it. Photo: © RSPB