Malta Diary A mouth-watering plate of Fish ‘N Chips …. but, is it Plastic ‘N Chemicals?
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“Plastic is indeed now on the menu! Faced with such damaging effects on the ocean from plastic waste from the throw-away, convenience lifestyles of many around the world, it is, I believe, utterly crucial that we transition to a circular economy,”
Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales speaking in Malta on Wednesday, 4th October, 2017
During a crammed two days, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales breezed into and out of Malta on 4th and 5th October, reviving a number of visits when he was previously in Malta, including a water-skiing holiday in the 1960s.
He was here mainly to help Malta celebrate the 75th anniversary of being awarded and presented with the prestigious George Cross for Bravery on 15th April, 1942 by his grandfather King George VI, as well as to attend and speak at the ‘Our Ocean’ Global Conference held in Malta with a specific agenda.
The Prince also found time to pay a visit to the impressive St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Valletta seeking donation funds of €3 million needed for urgent restoration, to which fund the Prince had already agreed to contribute.
The dumping of plastics into our seas and oceans is beginning to have telling effect. The Prince said plastic has nowadays become part of the fish menu and, in turn, when we consume fish, we are in-taking a dose of plastic.
Therefore, faced by a delicious plate of fish ‘n chips on our table, are we now actually eating plastic ‘n chemicals instead? Chips nowadays come in convenience packets, peeled, sliced and chemically coated for preservation and quick frying/baking. So, what are we actually eating?
Charles was the keynote speaker at the Conference hosted by Malta and its Prime Minister Joseph Muscat who also spoke as well as Federica Mogherini the EU Foreign Affairs High Commissioner and Malta’s former Minister Karmenu Vella who is now the EU’s Fish Commissioner.
The theme of the Conference, attended by 40 Leaders and Ministers worldwide from more than 100 countries was to ensure commitment and financial pledges for the further creation of marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution and climate change.
Urging consumers to commit themselves to these aims, the Prince highlighted waste material increasingly being found in fish with researchers claiming that by 2050, at the current rate, the weight of plastics in the ocean will outweigh fish populations.
“The growing threat to the world’s marine ecology has reached a critical point where plastics are now on the menu”, he told the conference. He highlighted the irreversible damage the Great Barrier Reef has already suffered and that eight million tonnes of plastics are dumped at sea annually.
He revealed another startling fact. Since the emergence of plastic n the 1950s every scrap of plastic dumped into our seas worldwide is still with us because it is not biodegradable and does not disintegrate. In brief, we swim in it and we are eating it – that is those that eat fish!
On a happier note, on the eve of the Conference, Prince Charles arrived in Malta in the early afternoon to attend the commemoration of the awarding of the George Cross to Malta during World War II as decreed by his granddad King George VI. The ceremony took place in St George’s Square, named and remaining a legacy of a British presence of over 150 years in the Islands.
One of the highlights was his meeting with 96-year-old former Spitfire pilot and ex-Flight Sergeant Allan Scott who patrolled Malta’s skies during 1942, a much-loved veteran who was surrounded by dignitaries anxious to thank him and shake his hand on Malta’s behalf.
Scott said that for Malta’s size, the island was the most bombed place on earth during the war.
“When you come to the Battle of Malta”, he said, “they had a target the size of the Isle of Wight – and they flattened it”. Malta was first continuously bombed by Italian aircraft and then in 1942 by Nazi Germany aircraft. He recalled that as a stand-by pilot he was often scrambled four times a day, hardly enabling him to eat or sleep.
Prince Charles himself did not spare his admiration.
He told those present, “these remarkable islands, with which my family hold such a deep and personal connection, suffered truly unimaginable hardship as the brutal ferocity of war engulfed them.
“By 1942, after almost two years of intense aerial bombardment, Malta was on the brink of surrender. Indeed, between March and April that year more bombs were dropped on Malta then were dropped on London during the entirety of the Blitz.
“And yet with characteristic determination and strength of spirit Malta’s valiant citizens held firm.”
The George Cross is still part of Malta’s national flag today, in the top left-hand corner – and may it remain like that for eternity to honour the spirit and bravery of my, and our Maltese forebears.
On a weekly basis I am inserting a Maltese saying, expression or proverb and where possible English equivalents that will help give insight into the Maltese psyche.
“People who sow or plant weeds will never reap wheat.”
Those that create bad blood among others will never see kindness.