Tuna ranchers to deploy booms to control fish farm slime

Four companies will set up a call centre to recieve public complaints and deploy monitors to collect the fish feed waste leaking from the ranches

Slime visible inside Marsaskala bay (Photo: John Baptist Camilleri)
Slime visible inside Marsaskala bay (Photo: John Baptist Camilleri)

Four members from the five companies in the Maltese Federation of Aquaculture have declared they will adopt best practices in a bid to reduce the waterborne leakage of waste from fish ranch feed.

The companies – Azzopardi Group’s AJD Tuna and Malta Mariculture, Fish & Fish, and MFF – said that they will abide by several measures for the feeding season to prevent the slick of waste feed that has afflicted Malta’s bays and swimmers.

The fifth operator Mareblu Ltd – owned by the Spanish fishing giant Ricardo Fuentes – did not sign up to the protocol.

READ ALSO: Fishy slime pollutes Marsaskala bay

The companies said they will place booms with every cage to collect oil seepage from the feed, and that a dedicated skimmer boat will monitor the cages to collect waste generated from the feed.

The federation said it would appoint an independent expert to assess and report back to the industry on the practices employed in the protocol, and that booms will be used on the boats transporting the fish feed.

“Apart from that there will be two boats circling the coast to collect all type of waste thrown at sea, including plastics and other material,” the federation said.

A call centre operational seven days a week will also be set up to receive public complaints. “We will direct signatories to this understanding not to feed fish if necessary, and we will keep the public updated about this understanding which should be transparent and open to scrutiny and regulatory authorities.”

The understanding was signed by a trade delegation of fish farm owners currently on a trade delegation in Japan with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who tweeted about the event.

Japan is one of the few countries to which Malta exports its products, particularly the prized tuna meat of Bluefin tuna.

“For years now the Maltese tuna ranching industry contributed to the country’s economy… having heard people’s complaints and the government’s call, we have decided to regulate ourselves even more,” FMAP spokesperson John Refalo said

The slime that hit Malta's eastern coastline over the past few days came from fish farm activity, with Environment Minister Jose Herrera saying investigations were underway.

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.

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