Fish farm cages in St Thomas Bay are illegal
2016-05-30 16:29:56   copyfrom:    hits:

The cages used for fish farming were placed in St Thomas Bay without a permit (Photo: Chris Sant Fournier)Fish

The cages used for fish farming were placed in St Thomas Bay without a permit. (Photo: Chris Sant Fournier)


Fish farming cages inside St Thomas Bay in Marsascala were placed there illegally, the Planning Authority has confirmed.

The cages appeared inside the bay at the end of February and were still there yesterday morning despite the Planning Authority having issued an enforcement order.

The Times of Malta newspaper flagged the presence of these large cages, which are used to house tuna, on May 9 after residents expressed concern over their lingering presence in the picturesque bay.

A Planning Authority spokesperson said it had issued the first enforcement order a month earlier after the operator carried out maintenance work on the cages on the foreshore at the bay.

The spokesperson confirmed that a site inspection was carried out on the same day that the Times of Malta report appeared and issued a second enforcement order, since the cages had no permit to be inside the bay.

Daily fines were imposed on the operator because the maintenance was being carried out without the necessary development permission, he said.

A second inspection, prompted by the questions from this newspaper, revealed that the onshore activity had ceased, which led the authority to withdraw the enforcement notice.

However, the cages were still located in the bay without a planning permit.

“The operator stated that the cages could not be taken offshore due to unfavourable weather conditions. The intention is that the cages should be transferred to their location: the designated aquaculture zone, which is covered by permits,” the authority spokesperson said.

The aquaculture zone is off the Marsascala coast and is host to various fish farming activities.

However, despite the planning authority’s imposition of daily fines, the cages were still in the bay yesterday, with no sign of them being transported out to sea.

At one point over the past three months there were as many as nine large cages just below the Munxar promontory in the bay.

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