Malta strengthens maritime pollution response

Malta-Norway meeting; Photo from DOI- Martin AttardTransport Malta will collaborate with the Norwegian Coastal Administration to strengthen the country's maritime pollution response.

During the launching of the project “Oil / HNS Spill Response Capacity Building For The Protection Of Malta’s Seas,” Transport and Infrastructure Minister Joe Mizzi, said that the undertaking, supported through grants from the European Economic Area (EEA), aims to address our island’s capacity building in the field of maritime incident response, particularly spills from oil and other hazardous and noxious substances.

Through this project, Transport Malta will have the distinction to share the Norwegian partner’s vast experience in this field.

“There is no doubt that the Norwegian Coastal Administration is the ideal partner to enhance Malta’s response to maritime pollution,” Minister Mizzi said.

It is a well-known fact that there is heavy maritime traffic in the Malta Channel, with approximately 25% of the world’s oil transport passing through the Central Mediterranean. Therefore, a particular level of national preparedness against oil spills and other hazardous and noxious substances is crucial, in order to counteract any incidents that may potentially arise and affect our seas, shores and potentially our economy.

Minister Mizzi added that one of the major objectives of the project is to increase the number of persons trained in maritime pollution response. It also aims at identifying potential pollution risks from offshore activities, in order to draw up a response strategy.

In the past, the Maltese maritime sector was also a beneficiary of EEA Grants through which Malta acquired oil pollution response equipment and the commissioned studies related to the drafting of the National Marine Pollution Contingency Plan.

The project being launched today, has taken into consideration the results achieved through those funds and other national efforts, in order to strengthen Malta’s preparedness to pollution risks from shipping and other maritime activities.  In fact, the current project design has been tailor-made to build on previous efforts and resources acquiredand alsoto strengthen Malta’s capacity to respond to maritime pollution incidents.

This project has allocated a substantial percentage of its €613,000 budget, towards the provision of training and identifying other possible training deficiencies Malta has to address.

The conference was also addressed by Parliamentary Secretary for EU Presidency 2017 and EU Funds Dr. Ian Borg (pictured at right) who stated that by means of the EEA and the Norway Grants Programs for the period 2009-2014, Malta would be benefitting from €4.5 million.  These funds will go to finance various projects in and around Malta and Gozo.  In fact, Dr. Borg said that this was a project entrusted to the Transport Authority, benefitting from €440,000.

Dr. Borg insisted that these grant programs, aimed at enhancing various projects, would also go a long way to strengthen relationships between all the countries concerned.  This can be achieved by way of the participants sharing of their experiences and good practices amongst each other.

The project is supported by a grant from Iceland, Leichenstein and Norway, through the EEA Grants 2009-2014.

Malta-Norway meeting; photo courtesy of DOI- Martin Attard.

 

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