Is this the end of the cruel limestine hunt?
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) declared the trapping method to be fundamentally illegal on Wednesday, March 17th. The EU judges made it clear that traditional fishing methods could be allowed in exceptional cases. However, tradition is insufficient to justify the approval.
In the case of liming, there are apparently “satisfactory” alternatives, such as raising birds in captivity instead of hunting them. The final decision on a possible ban must now be made by the French Council of State.
When hunting limed rods, birds get caught on a branch smeared with sticky glue. This method is banned throughout the EU; the previously widespread method is still used in only five departments in the south of France.
Two bird protection organizations had challenged the regulation before the French Council of State. The latter wanted to know from the Court of Justice whether the limestine hunt complied with the requirements of the EU Birds Directive.
According to the directive, derogations from the general ban can be made in exceptional cases if the fishing methods are selective, strict controls are carried out and only small quantities are caught.
In their verdict, the judges questioned whether the limestine hunt meets these criteria: it is very likely that the birds (bycatch) caught by accident would suffer irreparable damage, even if their plumage was subsequently cleaned of the sticky glue.
The ECJ thus deviates in parts from an opinion that Advocate General Juliane Kokott had prepared in November. Kokott had stated that catching limesticks does not necessarily contradict EU law if the preservation of the hunting method is of considerable cultural importance.