One of the most beautiful swimming spots in Gozo is Wied l-Għasri, on the north coast. However, my recent visit there was a very dispiriting experience.
As I approached the valley, descending the flight of steps to the beach, I glanced over the parapet at the water below. From these steps, in summer, one usually has a view of the clear, blue water, as it runs through the gorge from the sea.
Imagine my despair when, looking down, all I could see was a long line of toilet paper, snaking its way along the surface of the water, on the edge of the gorge.
I have been aware for some time now, particularly after the weekend, that many of my favourite swimming and snorkelling spots around Gozo are left with the unpleasant after-effects caused, in my opinion, by owners of small craft who leave their effluence behind when they head for home. During my visit to Wied l-Għasri I noticed tourists from the UK, Scandinavia and Germany. Sadly, they had a very poor and unhygienic swimming experience that day.
What I should like to ascertain is who is responsible to prevent this pollution of our waters? Is there a legal requirement to provide appropriate toilet facilities on boats? Is there an inspection and monitoring system in place?
If the Maltese islands wish to attract more tourists, there is a pressing need to ensure cleanliness of the beaches and the seas surrounding them. One would hope that this could be done through an appeal to the social conscience of boat owners. When this fails, what measures exist to deal with this major source of pollution?