(Mar. 20, 2009) For the second year in a row, the Maltese government has banned spring bird hunting season. As in 2008, the new ban is the result of a case on the issue brought by the European Commission against Malta, which is currently pending before the European Court of Justice. The Commission asserts that Malta has permitted the hunting of migratory birds in direct contravention of an EU Directive prohibiting this. The Prime Minister of Malta has declared that, so as not to prejudice the case, no spring hunting can occur in the country.
The ban has caused controversy among the Maltese hunters, who consider that the government is not standing up for the social and cultural heritage of Malta and is reneging on its election and EU referendum promises of allowing hunting to continue in Malta. The country is located on an important migratory bird route in the Mediterranean Sea. (David Lindsay, Malta Intends Moving Ahead with Spring Hunting Season, MALTA INDEPENDENT ONLINE, Mar. 19, 2009, available at http://www.independent.com.mt/news.asp?newsitemid=84529; Hunters 'Deeply Disappointed' by PM's Decision, TIMES OF MALTA, Mar. 18, 2009, available at http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20090318/local/its-official-no
-spring-hunting-this-year; Press Release?, IP-07-1509, European Commission, Nature Protection: Commission Takes Legal Action over Spring Hunting in Malta, Closes Cyprus Case (Oct. 17, 2007), available at http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1509&f