The Malta Independent 25 June 2022, Saturday

Residents and organisations request EU examination of planned Marsaskala Marina

Saturday, 15 January 2022, 09:34 Last update: about 6 months ago
Marsaskala residents have sent a letter to the European Parliament and the European Commission asking for an inquiry on whether the planned Yacht Marina in Marsaskala Bay is in breach of several EU regulations aimed at combating pollution and protecting marine life.

Signed by 700 individuals and 8 Maltese organisations, the letter states that the planned Yacht Marina in Marsaskala - published in a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) for bidders by Transport Malta - breaches the EU Habitats Directive and other Conventions and Protocols, a statement by the organisations and residents said.

Among the major concerns outlined in the letter is the serious threat to the Natura 2000 site known as ‘il-Magħluq’. This site includes two types of habitat types and one fish species, the Mediterranean killifish (il-Bużaqq), which are protected by the Habitats Directive. The site also hosts a known population of the critically endangered European eel. The conservation of this site depends on the quality of the sea water which comes in from the bay. Therefore, pleasure boats in the planned marina and the infrastructural interventions associated with it will result in seawater pollution and alter the water flow, severely threatening this site.

Marsaskala Bay is also a natural habitat for Posidonia meadows which are classified as a priority habitat for conservation under the EU Habitats Directive. Dredging, the presence of pontoons that reduce light penetration, land reclamation and the presence of more breakwaters and anti-fouling chemicals will significantly reduce sea currents and the water flow in the bay, endangering these protected meadows.

The letter argues that a Yacht Marina would run counter to EU-wide policies and targets such as the European Green Deal. Allocating more sites for yacht marinas will hinder Malta’s transition to a sustainable blue economy and will encourage the purchase of more recreational craft, thus encouraging more carbon generation. Moreover, the concentration of large sea vessels in the bay will greatly increase fossil fuel emissions and further compromise water quality and jeopardise the main blue economic activities in Marsaskala, namely coastal tourism and fishing.

Another concern outlined in the letter refers to the fact that the bay is the heart and soul of the village. Activities related to the local fishermen, such as berthing close to the shore to sell freshly caught fish, social encounters, sports such as kayaking and diving, physical exercise such as jogging and swimming, and events related to the local village feast all take place in the bay or on the surrounding promenade. A Yacht Marina will inevitably destroy or displace most of these activities since the whole space would become engulfed by hundreds of yachts and ancillary facilities for the super-rich.

Marsaskala residents emphasised that a Yacht Marina in Marsaskala Bay will disrupt the harmony that currently exists between the different parties that enjoy the bay as a common resource. A Yacht Marina would remove a common resource from the public to accommodate the few.

Organisations that signed the letter:

1.     Marsaskala Residents’ Network
2.     Moviment Graffitti
3.     Nature Trust Malta
4.    Din l-Art Ħelwa
5.    Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar
6.    Friends of the Earth Malta
7.    Rota
8.    The Archaeological Society Malta
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