BirdLife Malta ventures into new field: air pollution from ships

Measurements revealed concentrations 80 times higher than clean air levels expected of areas not exposed to any pollution sources. Ultrafine particles are known to be a major risk to human health as they trigger severe heart and lung disease.

9 December 2016, 2:19pm
Air pollution measurements in Valletta and Birgu showed high concentrations of ultrafine particles in the ambient air during the time ships were transiting through the Grand Harbour
Air pollution measurements in Valletta and Birgu showed high concentrations of ultrafine particles in the ambient air during the time ships were transiting through the Grand Harbour
For the first time in its history, BirdLife Malta will be venturing into a new field through a partnership it has started with NABU (BirdLife Germany) and several other international partners on a project entitled ‘Together against Air Pollution from Ships’.

Thanks to this project which has been launched over the past few days with a joint workshop in Malta, we will be delivering a local awareness campaign on air pollution generated by cruise ships in the Mediterranean with the ultimate goal of declaring the Mediterranean Sea as a Sulphur Emission Control Area.

Apart from the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (Naturschutzbund Deutschland, NABU) which is BirdLife’s partner in Germany, this project will be implemented together with various other Mediterranean environment NGOs which include the Hellenic Ornithological Society (Ornithologiki) which is BirdLife’s partner in Greece, Cittadini per l’Aria (Italy), France Nature Environnement (France) and Ecologistas en Acción (Spain).

The details were announced today during a press conference in Valletta which was addressed by officials from BirdLife Malta, NABU, and independent air quality expert Axel Friedrich.

The press conference follows an exercise in air pollution measurement carried out yesterday in Valletta and Birgu, which showed high concentrations of ultrafine particles in the ambient air during the time ships were transiting through the Grand Harbour.

Measurements revealed concentrations 80 times higher than clean air levels expected of areas not exposed to any pollution sources. Ultrafine particles are known to be a major risk to human health as they trigger severe heart and lung disease.

During the project’s duration, the NGOs will work towards raising awareness in Malta and the Mediterranean about air pollution from cruise ships, with the aim of establishing a a Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) within the Mediterranean.

Such an emission control area at sea would improve air quality by demanding that all ships operating within the Mediterannean use cleaner fuels.

Through an established Clean Cruise Ship Action Network, the project partners will regularly exchange information, knowledge and expertise through periodical conferences which will discuss air pollution from ships.