Environment minister orders action against tuna operators after re-emergence of sea slime

Operators breaching terms of their permit will be prevented from feeding fish until they are compliant, the ministry said

Sea slime has been a recurrent problem at a number of Maltese beaches in recent years
Sea slime has been a recurrent problem at a number of Maltese beaches in recent years

Environment minister Jose Herrera has directed the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) and the Fisheries department to take action against fish farm operators currently breaking the terms of their permit.

In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, Herrera’s ministry said that investigations had been carried out, after a foamy white material, commonly known as sea slime, was reported at various beaches in the south of Malta.

“The ministry is in a position to confirm that this was, in the most part, attributable to t he tuna industry,” the ministry said, adding that both ERA and the Fisheries Department had carried out several tests around the tuna cages.

“The investigation’s conclusions clearly show that various conditions outlined in the permit weren’t being respected by fish farm operators,” the ministry said.

“Minister Jose Herrera has directed ERA and the Fisheries Department for them to take action and the necessary effective measures within the parameters of the law, against operators that are not honouring their obligations.”

The ministry said that immediate action had already been taken against operators who had demonstrably failed to take action to stop oil and other material ending up in the sea.

“These operators have been stopped from feeding fish unless they implement the necessary measures for them to be in conformity with the conditions of their permit,” added the ministry.

Furthermore, it said that the federation which includes a number of fish farm operators had committed itself to ensuring that the measure is implemented.

The minister stressed that fish farm operators needed to abide by the conditions of their permit and that “it was unacceptable that any condition is not respected”.

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