The Malta Independent 15 August 2018, Wednesday

Fish farms: Operator yet to sign agreement says main focus is to complete installation of booms

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 9 August 2018, 15:05 Last update: about 5 days ago

Fish farm operator Mare Blu Tuna Farm Ltd says they are still reviewing and negotiating the self-regulation agreement made by fish farm operators on 1 August, stating that the agreement was forwarded to them at the last minute since they are not members of the Federation and thus not involved in drafting it.

Mare Blu Tuna Farm Ltd, a subsidiary of a Spanish company, has not yet signed the agreement. The Maltese Federation for Aquacultural Products announced on 1 August that four of the five operators had signed on to regularise their procedures between August and the end of October so to have cleaner seas for all. The agreement includes several considerations that the operators must adopt and follow to ensure that the environment around them is treated well and with full respect.

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Such measures include each operator having to place booms around each cage to stop any oils that emerge from the feed used for the fish spreading into the open water; that each operator has a boat dedicated to going round the cages and picking up any waste that has been generated; that the feed should be transported and processed in accordance with the best environmental practices and that there should be an independent person appointed by the Federation to assess and report on the practices that the signatory operators are using.

This newsroom sent questions to the Mare Blu Tuna Farm Ltd., asking for their reasons for not yet signing the agreement, and whether they intend on signing in the near future.

The response received is as follows:

“We are unable to comment on this situation at this time as we are still reviewing and negotiating this agreement which has been forwarded to us at the last minute, since we are not members of the federation and were not involved in the drafting of this agreement. Whilst we agree that we must do our utmost to prevent such environmental incidents, we must point out that most of the points are already present in our permit with the ERA. At the moment our main focus is to cooperate with local authorities on the completion of the installation of booms at our farms”

Recent investigations by the Environment and Resources Ministry and the Fisheries Department revealed that fish farm operators were not observing permit conditions, after sea slime was once again seen in Maltese bays. The government statement had said that where it had been established that operators had not taken steps to mitigate the release of oil and other related material, immediate measures had been taken. Since then booms have been and are being installed to help mitigate any slime seepage.

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