Residents and NGOs request EU investigation into Marsaskala yacht marina plans

700 Marsaskala residents and eight NGOs write to MEPs and European Commission, claiming the yacht marina plans in Marsaskala breach EU Habitats Directive

Several protests and demonstrations were held by Marsaskala residents ever since plans of a marina in Marsaskala surfaced (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Several protests and demonstrations were held by Marsaskala residents ever since plans of a marina in Marsaskala surfaced (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

700 Marsaskala residents along with eight organisations have penned a letter to the European Parliament and the European Commission asking for an inquiry into the Marsakala yacht marina plans.

In the letter they claimed the marina plans are in breach of the EU Habitats Directive and other Conventions and Protocols, aimed at combating pollution and protecting marine life.

A 700-berth yacht marina had been proposed by Transport Malta for the Marsaskala creek and was met by protests by the local council, residents and environmental NGOs.

They outlined the “serious threat” to the Natura 2000 site known as ‘il-Magħluq’, which hosts two habitat types and one fish species, the Mediterranean killifish (il-Bużaqq), protected by the Habitats Directive. The site also hosts a known population of the critically endangered European eel.

“The conservation of this site depends on the quality of the sea water which comes in from the bay. Therefore, pleasure boats in the planned marina and the infrastructural interventions associated with it will result in seawater pollution and alter the water flow, severely threatening this site,” Moviment Graffitti said in a statement.

Marsaskala Bay is also a natural habitat for Posidonia meadows, classified as a priority habitat for conservation under the EU Habitats Directive.

“Dredging, the presence of pontoons that reduce light penetration, land reclamation and the presence of more breakwaters and anti-fouling chemicals will significantly reduce sea currents and the water flow in the bay, endangering these protected meadows.”

It was argued in the letter that a marina would run counter to EU-wide policies and targets such as the European Green Deal.

“Allocating more sites for yacht marinas will hinder Malta’s transition to a sustainable blue economy and will encourage the purchase of more recreational craft, thus encouraging more carbon generation. Moreover, the concentration of large sea vessels in the bay will greatly increase fossil fuel emissions and further compromise water quality and jeopardise the main blue economic activities in Marsaskala, namely coastal tourism and fishing,” the letter said.

Another concern outlined in the letter highlights the bay as the heart and soul of the village. They argued a yacht marina would destroy or displace most activities since the whole space would become engulfed by hundreds of yachts and ancillary facilities for the super-rich.

Marsaskala residents emphasised a yacht marina in Marsaskala would disrupt the harmony that currently exists between the different parties that enjoy the bay as a common resource.

The NGOs that signed the letter were Marsaskala Residents’ Network, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Rota and The Archaeological Society Malta