Fish farm lobby advertises cleanup efforts but figures don’t add up

The Federation of Malta Aquaculture Producers, a fish farm lobby group representing companies like Azzopardi Fisheries, launched a marketing campaign last week to position the industry as sustainable and environmentally friendly, but upon closer inspection, the facts and figures do not add up.

The lobby group produced several advertorial articles in prominent publications such as The Times of Malta and LovinMalta, lauding their “cleanup efforts” over the past summer, noting they collected 500kg of waste daily.

The articles omit, however, that in 2018, an environmental impact assessment report by Adi Associates on just 12 of Azzopardi Fisheries’ fish farm pens found that they produce 6.6 tonnes of waste daily, comprising fish oil and uneaten baitfish.

The EIA report, produced ahead of the proposed relocation and expansion of 12 of Azzopardi Fisheries’ fish farm pens, shows that the waste generated eclipses the amount gathered as per the articles.

Fish farm

Information from the EIA report shows the feed cycle of fish farms

The articles were promoted by Aquaculture Resources Limited (ARL), described as the FMAP lobby’s operational arm. ARL lists Charles and David Azzopardi, Saviour Ellul ‘tal-Elbros’, Charlon Gouder and John Refalo as its directors.

The directors represent shareholders AJD Tuna Ltd and Fish and Fish Ltd., both owned by Azzopardi Fisheries and Ellul’s Malta Fish Farming Limited.

The practice was initially started in 2018 following public outrage from continued sea slime spillages from fish farms, which ended up in swimming areas causing issues for local swimmers and tourists.

The Shift has previously reported how, in 2017, the Planning Authority sanctioned the relocation of 12 of Azzopardi’s tuna pens to Sikka l-Bajda – some 5km off the St.Paul’s Bay shore – during which studies were conducted to confirm the best location for such operations.

Before the resultant Environmental Impact Assessment could be concluded, Azzopardi applied for permission to double the number of pens to 24, illegally increasing them to 22 before the permit was issued.

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