New minister suspends mega tuna-farm zone relocation off Gozo

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INFOFISH

Tuesday, 25 February 2020 14:46

Malta: Plans for the proposed North Aquaculture Zone

in the Sikka l-Bajda area, which will host all tuna pens in the North of Malta, will bring the existing fish-farms to a smaller site closer to the Gozitan coastline.

But the new minister for agriculture and fisheries has now asked for the suspension of the application to relocate the fish-farm outside Gozo.

The present fishfarm area (smaller rectangle) compared to the new area (larger trapezium shaped site). Source: maltatoday.com

The temporary relocation of fish-farm zones, approved in May 2019, was located 4.5km from Mellieha, 6km from Comino and 7.6km from Qala, Gozo.

According to the present plans, the new fish-farm zone will be located 4.6km from Qala and 5.7km from Mellieha.

An Environment Impact Assessment envisaging the impact of a fish-farm zone around Sikka l-Bajda was already published in early 2019.

A spokesperson for newly-appointed minister Anton Refalo said the minister had requested a review of the relocation of the fish-farming zone off the coast of Gozo.

“The ministry is concerned with both the location chosen which is close to touristic and environmentally sensitive areas, principally Hondoq Bay in Qala and the island of Comino, and also with the increase in size of the area indicated,” the spokesperson said.

“The current fish farming zones already serve the industry well and a further expansion does not seem justified. Once the review is complete the ministry will be making a final determination as to whether amend the application as it stands or withdraw it completely.”

The application’s site area of 3.4sq.km, the expanse of 484 football grounds, will cater for a total biomass of approximately 5,000 MT of fish according to details presented in the application up from the 3,300 MT of fish catered for in the current temporary zone.

The Environment and Resources Authority has already issued its clearance for the development but has issued a number of conditions, including regular monitoring by the authority and by avifauna experts, and controls on the individual operations.

Birdlife Malta had expressed concern on locating fish-farms in a marine protection area which includes important bird colonies.

Source: FIS (maltatoday.com)

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