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Aquaculture Zone Opposed by Marsascala Council

MALTA - An application for the establishment of an aquaculture zone in the southeast of Malta faced opposition from the Marsascala council yesterday, which said the legal process had not been adhered to.

The application for an aquaculture zone at a "site at southeast of Malta 6 km away" was submitted to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority by Andrea Fenech Farrugia on 8 October, according to TimesofMalta.com.

Mayor Mario Calleja said during a press conference that the council had learnt about the proposed development from residents. The notice was fixed at the wrong location, it was put up during the Christmas period when people's attention was diverted, it had not been published in the press as the law stipulated, and it had not been followed by formal correspondence with the council according to procedure, Mr Calleja said.

"The local council should have been informed of this proposed development before the application was submitted, in the spirit of true consultation," Mr Calleja said.

The council said it was informed that the intention was to move all fish farms to this site, including 40 per cent of the Mediterranean's tuna quota.

This is not the first time that the council has taken up this battle. A previous application in 2006 by the Fisheries Department for the same purpose was quashed in court in January last year when the council's request to revoke the permit was upheld. The reasons for the permit's revocation included the fact that the public was misled into thinking the development would be in Marsaxlokk when the intention was to have it in Marsascala.

The council's lawyer, Owen Bonnici, said: "It is evident that they've learnt nothing after the legal battle that has just come to an end. Again, the most basic legal requirements have not been followed - the publication of all the details related to the development, in the format and order required, and the notification to the relevant local council were not done."

The council said it will be pursuing the case in spite of limited resources: "We are unanimous in our opposition to this project. This council does not suffer from petty political bickering and we stand united," the mayor said.

the Fish Site Editor

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