Fish farms meet deadline to relocate offshore

Environment minister Jose Herrera says deal will mean that fish farm slime will not contaminate the sea this summer

Environment minister Jose Herrera addresses a press conference in Qawra
Environment minister Jose Herrera addresses a press conference in Qawra

Fish farms have moved their operations to designated offshore zones to the north-east and south-east of Malta, meeting a government-imposed deadline to do so by the end of May.

The agreement was reached last year in the wake of a public outcry that fish farm slime was contaminating the sea.

Addressing a press conference off the coast of Qawra – one of the sites that was most contaminated by fish farm slime last summer – environment minister Jose Herrera said the deal will mean that the slime problem will not repeat itself this year.

“The problem of fish farm pollution had escalated last year and the government had taken immediate action, revoking the permits of fish farms and reaching a deal with them to relocate offshore,” he said. “Many people were sceptical that we could see this through, but as environment minister I am proud that this issue has now been resolved.”

He said that the government has published new regulations, with stricter fines for fish farm operators and more synchronisation between the Department of Fisheries, the Planning Authority and the Environment and Resources Authority.

Planning parliamentary secretary Deborah Schembri said that the fish farm deal proves that the Labour government sticks by its promises.

“Some people had warned us not to take drastic action against the fish farms because it might have harmed their operations, but we believed we needed to be harsh and look at the bigger picture,” she said. “The fish farm operators are satisfied at this solution and the public will now be able to enjoy a sea uncontaminated by fish farm slime this summer.”

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