[WATCH] Manoel island project will destroy anglers, Gzira fishermen warn

Għaqda Sajjieda Dilettanti Gżira president Tony Cauchi questioned what will happen to the 100 boats moored in the part of the sea that is to be reclaimed

The proposed development and land reclamation at Manoel Island will have a devastating effect on small fishermen, according to Għaqda Sajjieda Dilettanti Gżira (GSDG) president Tony Cauchi.

"Yes, progress and improvements [to our built environment] must be made," Cauchi said of the proposed mega project, "but not to the detriment of hundreds of people who have used this area for more than 70 years."

The latest plans for the island, submitted in September 2017, foresee that most buildings facing the yacht marina on the Ta’ Xbiex side would have a height of 14.5 metres.

The plans will also see some 600 apartments being built on reclaimed land, as well as a hotel in the Lazzaretto complex. It also proposes an 8,449 sq.m. retail complex, a marina for 183 berths and 3,695 sq.m allocated for sports facilities.

“At no point has MIDI, [the consortium behind the project], expressed concern for the fishermen and small boat owners who use the port of Gzira to launch and moor their vessels," Cauchi said, adding that around 100 moorings will be lost to the project.

Cauchi mentioned how plans in 1999 had included a new slipway on the eastern side of the bridge, with the idea having been done away with in the 2017 amendments, which he said make no mention of how fishermen were expected to pull their boats out of the water.

The GSDG president said stakeholders were also concerned with the fact that a planned lido (already approved by the Planning Authority) will further take up mooring space, which is already limited given that the yacht yard customers who have a reserved spot on the shoreline.

"Despite the new plans seeming more attractive, GSDG is protesting this threatened loss of slipway which hobby fishermen have been using for more than 70 years," Cauchi said.

He added that “common people” did not deserve to be disrespected by the wealthy and powerful. "This is not the kind of treatment that is to be expected in a civilised democratic nation."