Public gathering and protest swim at Marsascala Bay to defend ‘only open space left’

‘Protest with a difference’ is part of long-term campaign against yacht marina proposal

 

Residents and activists gathered in Marsascala this afternoon for another demonstration against a proposed marina in Marsascala, voicing their criticism of the authorities’ handling of the project despite determined opposition.

“A good prime minister who wants excellence would listen to the experts, listen to its customers, listen to its stakeholders – in this case, the tourists and the community. Why is it hard to evaluate and realise that this is a big mistake?” Marsascala resident and tourism expert Theresa Hoban said to a crowd of protesters at a popular swimming spot threatened by a proposed yacht marina.

“So tell us, who are you listening to and why prime minister. Who wants the marina?” Hoban asked. She was referring to Prime Minister Robert Abela saying during an interview that there was a need for investment in the area.

Theresa Hoban addressing those gathered to raise their voice against a marina in Marsascala.

On Saturday afternoon, protesters gathered for the third demonstration against a yacht marina proposal fronted by Transport Malta. Residents and activists joined the gathering, with many taking a dip in the threatened bay after speeches were given.

“Previously we had the recycling plant and the fish farms forced on us, we lost the national pool, we lost the coastline where Jerma stood, and now it’s the new water polo pitch, the regeneration project and the bay for a marina!” Hoban said, criticising both main political parties. “We are being destroyed by both sides. Each side only objects when the other is in power,” Hoban said.

The protest movement in Marsascala, supported by NGO Moviment Graffitti, is opposing plans to turn Marsascala Bay into a berthing area for 700 yachts. The bay was described by environmental health expert John Paul Cauchi as “the only open space left” in Marsascala.

He argued that “Transport Malta’s arrogance has reached stratospheric levels”. The Authority has reportedly told bidders that the opposition to the project is “speculative”, saying the designs are not final and therefore objections to the project are premature.

“In other words, Transport Malta is telling bidders to submit bids and leave it up to them. How can one have the confidence to apply for such a project when the opposition to it is so strong?… Bidders have a good reason to be worrying about the opposition to this project!” Cauchi added.

Christa, 15, read out a poem on the gems of Marsascala called ‘The Vision’.

Home economics lecturer Jacqueline Rotin, also a Marsascala resident, spoke at length about the prime minister’s reaction to the project, also criticising his declaration that investment is needed in the area.

“I’m sorry, but changing Marsascala Bay into a parking lot and latrine for yachts is not an upgrade, stealing the soul and life of Marsascala isn’t an upgrade, but an insult to us,” Rotin said.

“On many levels, this is a no-go project. I’d like to ask the developers who are planning on developing this project, with all its environmental, social and cultural constraints: would you blame us for concluding that there are hidden elements involved if your permit is issued anyway?” Rotin asked.

Residents and activists held up placards objecting to the development.

“Why do you want to ruin Marsascala? As for the politicians who decided to facilitate this project: can you give us reasons why you are more concerned about some 700 yachts having a parking space instead of us and future generations?” she added.

Ecologist and Graffitti activist Marie-Claire Gatt spoke of the loss of biodiversity that would result from such a project. “Decisions like building a yacht marina in a bay will not bring any advancement for us as a population. These are not the decisions that result in a better quality of life or sustainable continuity for our country.”

“What are we going to safeguard with the introduction of a yacht marina? The real answer is nothing, and that’s why we do not want any kind of marina in Marsascala,” Gatt said.

                           
                               
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