PD urges authorities to improve enforcement before processing more tuna pen applications

On a more general note, the party said the Planning Authority could not continue to approve projects that commence before approval is granted

An aerial photo of the fish farms provided by PD MP Godfrey Farrugia back in February
An aerial photo of the fish farms provided by PD MP Godfrey Farrugia back in February

The Democratic Party’s (PD) two members of parliament have objected to a Planning Authority application that “intends to get a permit to double the amount of tuna pens at a farm off Sikka l-Bajda, the party said on Friday.

It stressed that the authorities should improve enforcement at fish farms before processing more applications.

The PD pointed out that the applicant in this particular case had already set up the additional anchored pens, before the application’s approval. “This same site was been designated as a temporary location under study by the PA in 2017.”

It said that the farm in question needed to be re-located further out at sea at a “depth that minimizes the envisaged adverse effects of fish-farming”.

Moreover, the PD insisted that the application be processed within the framework of the Aquaculture strategy for the period 2014-2025, issued by the Environment ministry. The strategy calls for improved operational management to the reduce environmental impact of the industry.

“The more blue-fin tuna pens are set up at Natura 2000 sites, the more adversely are out maritime ecosystems, coastal waters and human health effected,” the party said.

The PD stressed that it was an “established fact” that the level of fish farming in Malta is already intense and at saturation point.

READ MORE: MP claims photographs prove illegal tuna pens still in place

“Partit Demokratiku notes that other Mediterranean countries are restricting their fish-farming industry, contrary to what is happening in Malta,” it said.

Not an isolated incident

The PD said that it was an “unfortunate sign of the times” that even a cursory glance at the PA website revealed many applications for sanctioning of works which have “either already started without permission, or even been completed”.

The party said it remained in favour of helping the aquaculture industry, but insisted that the Fisheries department needed to introduce more stringent regulations and on-site monitoring, as outlined in the government’s own strategy.

It said that existing farms should be consolidated within the current strategy before more applications are processed.

“Partit Demokratiku, the third voice in Parliament, will continue to safeguard the real environmental and economic interests of the country, and will continue to do its duty and scrutinise in favour of good governance,” the statement concluded.

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