Client: Director General (Fisheries Conservation and Control Division
Start / Finish Dates: February 2005 – November 2005
This Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) supported a planning application for the establishment of an Aquaculture Zone (AZ) off the south-east coast of Malta to be managed by the Fisheries Conservation and Control Division of the Ministry for Rural Affairs and the Environment (MRAE). The Scheme set to designate an area of sea within which to farm fish, namely Atlantic Bluefin Tuna even though the farming of other species in the future was not ruled out. The Scheme proposed the relocation of the three tuna farms in the south of the island to the zone, while also enticing tuna farming operations in other areas of the Mediterranean to relocate to Malta.
The Scheme aimed to;
- Establish an area of sea that is specifically zoned and exclusively used for aquaculture operations, and is of sufficient capacity to meet the requirements of new foreign and Maltese operators, and those existing fish farms wishing or being required to relocate;
- Prove the feasibility of establishing a fish farm in waters that are considerably deeper than those used by the existing fish farms; and
- Prove the feasibility of fish farming operations in exposed conditions and at distances that are well offshore.
The idea of having the Scheme in deeper waters was the result of local opposition to fish farms which were close to the shore. The change from sea bream/sea bass to tuna penning operations brought with it substantial change. These changes indicated that these farms necessitated deeper waters and conditions.
Implementation of the Scheme will free up the inshore sites for other legitimate marine uses (including fishing, diving, and yachting), the relocation of potentially polluting sources from 1km offshore to an area 6km offshore that is already impacted by other maritime activities (namely oil bunkering), and increased value added and multiplier effects through foreign direct investment in the greater number of farms established locally.
Overall, the relocation of the inshore operations to within the Aquaculture Zone would also significantly improve on the current conditions of the inshore coastal waters, resulting in an immediate beneficial impact on coastal uses.
The permit was granted in December 2005.
Keywords: Aquaculture, coastal uses, fisheries, Environmental Impact Assessment