The Malta Independent 16 December 2018, Sunday

Sea slime coming from fish farms, steps will be taken if irregularities found – Herrera

Albert Galea Wednesday, 1 August 2018, 15:53 Last update: about 6 months ago

The sea slime that has appeared on vast stretches of Maltese coasts is coming from fish farms, said Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Jose Herrera when speaking to The Malta Independent. Steps will be taken if irregularities were committed by fish farm operators.

Over the past days, multiple images have been shared on social media by swimmers and environmentalists who have come face to face with the sludge.  Reports have been received of the slime being present across various shorelines, ranging from Marsascala to Kalkara and further up to Sliema and Pembroke.

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Asked by this newsroom about these reports, Herrera said that he was worried about them and that from preliminary comments that he had received from experts, he is sure that the slime is coming from fish farms in Maltese waters.

Herrera said that today, Wednesday, both the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) and the Fisheries department were out at sea with their own vessels conducting comprehensive inspections to determine what, if any, regulations had been broken.  A report of their findings should be at the Ministry either on Wednesday night or on Thursday, Herrera said, from which point the ministry will take all the required action against any fish farm operators who are found to have broken the conditions set by the ministry.

When the policy that stipulated that fish farms had to be moved further away from the shoreline was put into being, Herrera said, he knew that there could still be a certain amount of slime drifting inwards, but he wanted to mitigate this as much as possible.  To exclude this possibility entirely, Herrera explained, one must stop the industry entirely, and such a thing would be against the policy that the government is undertaking.  The decision to try mitigate the slime as much as possible is one that was supported by both sides of the House, Herrera added.

Herrera described it as “intolerable” that operators are given the licence to work but ignore the stipulated working conditions.  In this respect, Herrera pledged that if they have failed to follow the conditions of work; then they “must answer for those failures”.

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