MALTA DIARY: Clean and crystal clear blue Mediterranean Sea
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My late father Frank was always a keen amateur fisherman; like most Maltese, well anyway islanders in general, he loved the sea and appreciated its values. In the early 1950s before we moved to England, at every opportunity, he and I went out fishing in his little boat in Sliema Creek, at the time virtually bristling with RN cruisers, destroyers and mine sweepers.
World War II was still very much in mind so the maintenance of a strong navy remained paramount for the British Crown, further required because of the growing Cold War with the Soviets.
The sea in the Creek was splendidly blue with greenish hues, clear and transparent, so clear that one of his fishing items was a circular sieve-shaped wooden contraption but instead of a sieve mesh was glass bottomed. This he would put on the water surface to clearly see the sea bottom and with a ladle strapped to a long bamboo pole he would haul out dozens of large whelks which when thoroughly boiled and then doused with olive oil, fresh lemon juice and roast garlic tasted like heaven!
We also fished for grey mullet with baited cork floats and large bream using baited hand-held lines or rods (bamboo rods that is – before the invention of creels!). My father also had a number of small bamboo traps which we laid down for shrimps and other small molluscs.
Yes, the Creek teemed with ships but they were generally careful and certainly did not discharge pollutant oils and any escapes were purely accidental. More importantly, although plastic was of course used, it was not so widely used and there was no plastic pollution.
Sadly however, everything went into rapid and sharp decline over the years although the naval ships virtually disappeared, boats and outboard motors became more popular and more affordable and the area teemed with them. However, the real down-slide came when raw sewage discharge began to flow into the Creek and the sea became grey and with unsightly views of wads of toilet paper and other indescribable eye-sores … not to mention the foul smells.
Sadly, this was a common sight elsewhere and even began to pollute popular swim beaches.
Thankfully, those days are well and truly over and although the Creek is not pristine, it has at least a semblance of its former days.
Sewage is now being treated and is re-cycled and no longer discharged into the sea.
This has enabled Malta to boast of now having no less than twelve beaches awarded the Blue Flag signifying Eco Sustainable Development. These are, with their localities:
- Fond Għadir Bay – Sliema;
Westin Dragonara Resort Beach – St Julian’s
St George’s Bay – St Julian’s;
Qawra Bay – St Paul’s Bay;
Buġibba Perched Beach – St Paul’s Bay;
Mellieħa Bay – Mellieħa;
Golden Sands Bay – Mġarr;
Għajn Tuffieħa Bay – Mġarr;
Island’s Edge Beach (Paradise Bay Hotel) – Cirkewwa;
Ramla Bay – Xaghra, Gozo;
Ħondoq Ir-Rummien Bay – Qala, Gozo;
Marsalforn Bay – Marsalforn, Gozo.
This does in no way mean that a number of extremely popular areas like Wied iz-Zurrieq, Ghar Lapsi, Pretty Bay, Xlendi Bay in Gozo etc are unsuitable for swimming and still remain popular bathing areas for local swimmers and tourists alike.
More work is yet needed on some inland areas like Sliema Creek and Malta’s yacht marinas, although various problems remain. The main curse is plastic dumped into the sea, followed by unwanted household items and the fish farms were last year ordered to re-locate further out to sea.
Thankfully, for the present, crystal blue Mediterranean waters still surround the Maltese Islands.
“For him, six plus six make two!”
Referring to a person who defies logic and reason, meaning he/she has their own reasoning and will do as their mind dictates – also meaning an indication of indifference to the actual truth because he/she couldn’t care less!