An international maritime framework to promote the future sustainability of our oceans
“We are considering proposing a thorough study to create a consolidated international maritime framework to promote a sustainable future for our oceans. Today’s fragmented approach where different UN agencies deal with overlapping issues in a disjointed manner makes little sense,” said the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion, Carmelo Abela during the Nautical Institute’s Technical Seminar and AGM held at the Cavalieri Art Hotel in St Julian’s.
Addressing the international representative body for maritime professionals involved in the control of sea-going ships, the minister thanked them for choosing Malta, “a country with a reputation as one of the world’s most reliable and effective centres for maritime services; a country that is determined to keep striving to reap the full potential of its maritime vocation”.
Malta is also a country that hosts a number of international institutions, including the International Maritime Law Institute, the International Ocean Institute and the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea. “However, we also continue to strive to consolidate our position as one of the leading players in the highly competitive environment of the global shipping industry.”
Minister Abela spoke about Malta’s long and rich maritime trade history and its geographically-strategic position being as important today as it has been over the centuries. “Malta’s access to the EU’s single market since membership has only strengthened its importance in the heart of the world’s greatest shipping routes: the Europe-West Africa-Middle East triangle.”
The minister also explained why Malta has shown notable international leadership in this sector, recalling Malta’s tabling of the UN proposal which resulted in the adoption of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“Because of this initiative, Malta is considered the pioneer of this Law of the Sea and its outcomes. Our first Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr Arvid Pardo, formalised this proposal, which gave birth to the doctrine that states that the seabed, the ocean floor and the sub-soil are ‘the common heritage of mankind’, to only be used and exploited for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of mankind as a whole.”
Malta also prides itself in having the largest international ship register in the EU and the sixth largest one in the world, with flag integrity and competitive registration fees.
“Our harbours are the third largest transhipment and logistics hub in the Mediterranean, and they include a fully-equipped grain terminal and warehousing facilities,” the Minister explained.
“This enables the storage, and consequent shipment, of merchandise. Efforts to further bolster the sector include a €55-million investment to build a Mediterranean Maritime Hub, to serve as the regional centre of service support for the marine, oil, and gas industries.”
He also spoke about the importance of yachting within the maritime sector stating, “With nine yacht marinas across Malta and Gozo, our islands have become a destination for yachts, and also super yachts”.
The minister further explained how Malta has become a central attraction and destination for cruise liners. “Tourism from cruise liners making a stop in the Grand Harbour has become an all-year-round activity, boosting our tourist arrivals to unprecedented records, while putting Malta firmly on the map of Mediterranean tourism itineraries.”
The Malta Freeport, the first transhipment hub in the Mediterranean region, also enjoys positive international recognition as a reliable and credible port. “It is equipped with 21 quayside cranes, state-of-the-art facilities and container-handling equipment, top-notch technology, as well as fullytrained personnel and an unmatched quality service complying with the relevant ISO standards.”
And through regular services operating from Malta Freeport, clients reach 135 ports worldwide, 64 of which are in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. “Malta Freeport is currently operating at full capacity. An extension was approved last March, and this €60-million investment will increase the Freeport’s handling capacity from three million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units per annum to four million.”
He concluded by saying Arvid Pardo, Father of the Law of the Sea, does not only represent our past achievements, “he also inspires all of us to keep striving in our efforts to make a meaningful impact in today’s world.”