The bays at Kalanka and St Peter’s Pool in Delimara were yesterday again filled with a slew of greasy slime locals are convinced emanates from the fish farms in the vicinity.

Regular visitors to the area have observed there is a pattern as to when the slime appears. In the early hours of the morning, the beaches boast crystal clear blue waters. Yet, after feeding time at the fish farms, the slime starts to penetrate both beaches in the afternoon, depending on currents. This was confirmed following several visits to the area by the Times of Malta.

Locals have given up on reporting the issue after several years of complaints, and even petitions, fell on deaf ears. Swimmers could be seen diving into the stinking foam rather than abandoning their favourite leisure spots.

When this newspaper followed the issue last year, the Planning Authority had been reluctant in pointing to the source saying it was unknown.

The slime stinks of fish and leaves a residue on the rocks.

The slime stinks of fish and leaves a residue on the rocks

When this newspaper highlighted the problem two years ago, it resulted that a fish farm operating in Marsaxlokk had increased the number of cages from five to 18 without permits. This was confirmed by the planning authority but questions sent yesterday on whether this infringement had been addressed remained unanswered at the time of writing.

The tripling of cages rakes in millions in additional revenue for the fish farms, that still refuse to move to their designated location further away from shore according to the permit they were given.

Mario Cassar spoke to this newspaper about the persistent problem with the slime. He has been visiting the area since he was a child and said he regularly met people who complained they could not wash out the stench of fish from the slime.

Two years ago, Fisheries Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes had launched a strategy for the fish farming sector for the period 2014 to 2025. The focus was growth. When pollution from farms was raised, the reply was that such slime was a thing of the past. The pollution was dismissed as teething problems of a new sector.

Yet, the problem persists and no action appears to have been taken to either stem the sector’s impact on clean seas and tourism or to force the fish farms to move to their designated location.

An aquaculture zone planned for southeast Malta, which would take these cages further out at sea, has still not materialised because of appeals filed jointly by the two companies. The Fisheries Department was granted a permit to establish the zone in 2005 but its implementation was delayed.

caroline.muscat@timesofmalta.com

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