Environment Minister confirms sea slime is from fish farms, inspections underway

Environment Minister Jose Herrera has promised action will be taken against fish farms if inspections reveal they broke regulations

Jose Herrera said inspections were underway to verify whether fish farms broke rules, as slime hits Malta's east coast
Jose Herrera said inspections were underway to verify whether fish farms broke rules, as slime hits Malta's east coast

The slime that hit Malta's eastern coastline over the past few days came from fish farm activity, the Environment Minister has confirmed.

Jose Herrera said that experts had informed him that the slime reported in various localities, including Marsaskala and Sliema, had come from fish farms and investigations were underway.

Herrera was answering questions this afternoon, in the wake of widespread reports of an oily sludge that appeared along the eastern coastline, where fish farms are located.

READ ALSO: Fishy slime pollutes Marsaskala bay

The minister said that officials from the Environment and Resources Authority and the Fisheries Department were at sea today, carrying out inspections in connection with the slime reported in Marsaskala and Sliema.

"By tonight or tomorrow, I will have more information on the situation, and I will know which regulations have been broken. After that, I will see to it that a remedy is put into place," Herrera said, adding that such reports worried him.

Herrera said that when he introduced the policy that fish farms should be further out at sea, he anticipated that there would still be some cases of slime in coastal areas. "We had to mitigate the situation, but we cannot stop the fishing industry, However, if operators did not abide by the regulations, they have to pay the price," he added.

The situation came to a head in the summer of 2016 when slime from fish farms polluted bathing areas stretching from St Paul's Bay all the way down to Sliema and Marsaskala.

Herrera, who had just been appointed environment minister proposed new regulations that saw fish farms being relocated at a greater distance from the shore.

The 2016 incident was blamed on a more fatty feed given to tuna.

READ ALSO: Fish farms meet deadline to relocate offshore

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