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PN pledges harsh control on fish farms, underwater museum

Simon Busuttil says PN government will keep turtle dove spring hunting moratorium, ensure Manoel Island is as open to the public as possible 

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
24 May 2017, 3:27pm
Simon Busuttil launches the PN's environment proposals at Zonqor Point. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Simon Busuttil launches the PN's environment proposals at Zonqor Point. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
A Nationalist government will impose harsher controls on fish farm waste and ensure that fish farms comply with an agreement to shift their operations offshore, PN leader Simon Busuttil said.

Launching the PN’s environment proposal at Zonqor Point, Busuttil recounted how fish farms last year reached an agreement to relocate their operations offshore in the wake of a public outcry that fish farm slime was contaminating the sea, but that nothing has been done since.

The PN leader also pledged to set up an underwater eco-museum, the first in the Mediterranean, to serve as a tourist attraction.

A Nationalist government will also draft a national long-term environment strategy stretching up to 2050, with interim targets that successive governments will have to adhere to.

In the more short-term, it will develop a new Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development, so as to close off planning loopholes in the SPED passed by the Labour government.

Busuttil reiterated his pledge to stop Sadeen from building part of its American University of Malta campus at Zonqor Point, and to convert White Rocks into a nature park instead of a luxury real-estate site, as envisaged by Labour.

He added that Planning Authority and the Environment and Resources Authority will be freed from political interference, and that green NGOs will be more involved in the two authorities.

Large projects on ODZ land will have to be approved by a two-thirds parliamentary majority, after the Planning Authority has green-lighted the development proposal.

It will develop a national skyline policy that will ban the construction of skyscrapers in certain areas, and ensure no land reclamation projects for speculative purposes.

A moratorium on the hunting of turtle dove in spring has been in place since last year
A moratorium on the hunting of turtle dove in spring has been in place since last year
Spring hunting moratorium on turtle dove to remain

Responding to questions by MaltaToday, Busuttil confirmed that he has no intention of lifting a moratorium on the spring hunting of turtle dove.

“As I understand, the decision to impose a moratorium was based on a scientific recommendation, so I will rely on that scientific recommendation,” he said.

The moratorium was imposed last year, after the International Union for the Conservation of Nature classified the turtle dove as a vulnerable species.

MIDI plans to build a casino-hotel, shopping complex and luxury apartments on Manoel Island
MIDI plans to build a casino-hotel, shopping complex and luxury apartments on Manoel Island
‘Manoel Island should be as open to the public as possible’

During the press conference, Busuttil also confirmed that he would like to see Manoel Island remain as open to the public as possible.

However, he did not come out against the MIDI consortium’s plans to construct a shopping complex, casino-hotel and luxury apartments on the island, arguing that the majority of the island will not be built up.

“The development plans for Manoel Island are the result of a private contract that we have no access to,” he said. “However, the current plans will see 62% of the island, including the foreshore, remain open to the public, 20% of it occupied by restored historical buildings and 18% taken up by new buildings.

“I will enter discussions with [MIDI] to ensure that they stick to their promises within the stipulated timeframes and that the final result will allow the public to enjoy it even more than they currently do.”