Global leaders are currently in Malta at the two-day Our Ocean conference (http://www.ourocean2017.org) to commit to new actions to ensure sustainable fisheries, to mitigate climate change impacts, to announce new marine protected areas and to fight marine pollution.
Healthy Seas and its partners have organised various side events in Malta, linked to this important global event, including sea clean-up action by volunteer divers at Marine Protected Areas around Malta, Our Ocean, Our Life public engagement event and school programme, and a ghost net exhibition at the Malta National Aquarium.
A group of volunteer divers from Ghost Fishing and Maltaqua Dive Centre departed between 1-3 October every day early in the morning to remove marine litter, more specifically lost fishing gear and ghost nets from ecologically important areas around Malta.
Despite rough weather, the divers were determined and collected over 500kg of lost fishing gear, thus making the seas around Malta a cleaner and safer place for marine animals to live. Lost fishing gear can cause a lot of problems for marine wildlife and marine ecosystems, but also for the maritime industry, navigational safety, beach quality, local communities and fishermen too.
At the same time, a coastal and shore clean-up combined with an educational and information event took place on 1 October in Balluta Bay, targeting the general public and schools. About 50 volunteers were working hard and within a few hours managed to collect 1.5 tonnes of marine litter.
The ghost nets and other marine litter collected from the coastline and seas around Malta have been used for an eye-catching sculpture of Poseidon (King of the Seas) created by a local artist Jennings Falzon. The Ghost Net Exhibition was opened at the Malta National Aquarium on 4 October, on World Animal Day. This sculpture is a tribute to all those animals who died and suffered because of lost fishing gear and ghost nets.
Healthy Seas and its partners were honored to welcome the organisers of the Our Ocean conference, US Embassy and the delegation of the European Commission (EC) to the opening of the Exhibition. Special thanks to João Aguiar Machado, EC Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, who inaugurated the exhibition.
The exhibition will be on display at the Aquarium for three to four weeks, afterwards it will travel to other locations in Malta for awareness raising.