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Malta creates first marine park

Malta creates first marine park

The Cirkewwa project aims to increase biodiversity and boost diving tourism

The release of Kim, an eight-year-old turtle, in the waters of Cirkewwa, symbolically marked the opening of the first maritime park in the Maltese islands. A tracking device was attached to the lucky sea turtle to update Nature Trust Malta on Kim’s peregrinations.

Project will cost EUR 4.5 million

Nature Trust Malta and Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) yesterday signed an agreement under which MTA will allocate EUR 300,000 each year over three years to the non-governmental organization. Nature Trust Malta will seek additional funding from EU programmes, as the cost of the Cirkewwa project is estimated at EUR 4.5 million, reports TVM.

President of Nature Trust Malta Vince Attard and Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo said the park’s aim is to create a protected underwater zone with increased biodiversity, while boosting economic activity generated by tourism, particularly by attracting diving enthusiasts.

The first step will be for Nature Malta to engage all stakeholders in consultations, followed by a study of the seabed to make an inventory of everything there is at this site. Once the study is completed, work on “zonations” will begin to establish areas open for fishing, or such open for diving, or no-go areas because of the risk of destroying marine life.

This will lead to the preparation of a holistic plan for the entire park, said Attard. He added that Transport Malta will be approached for an agreement on barring the entry of boats into the marine park.

Sustainable tourism

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo said that the marine park project is the first of its type in Malta and will lead to sustainable tourism. He stressed that the pandemic has given the government the opportunity to invest more in Malta’s environment. According to Bartolo, investment in the marine park will bring about more biodiversity and an increase in fish, which is the main attraction for divers who come on diving holidays.

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