Plastic in Marsascala bay after Summer carnival causes concern
The Ministry for local government has called this year’s edition of the summer carnival a huge success, yet the environmental aftermath raised eyebrows.
“It is estimated that around 20,000 people attended this year’s Summer Carnival, which is in its 6th consecutive year, proving once again the immense popularity such initiatives have gained throughout the years. This year’s edition, which was organised by Festivals Malta, was celebrated over the span of three days in Buġibba and Marsascala,”the ministry said in a statement.
Images which surfaced on social media however, painted a worrying picture, where confetti which this newspaper was informed included bits of plastic was fired during the celebrations, and was seen littering the bay. This occurred just a few days after a necropsy on a dead leatherback turtle noted that the animal had been severely weakened by ingestion of plastic material which was found in the intestines, showing the damage to marine life plastic litter creates. The turtle had died from pneumonia that developed into a generalised inflammation.
Speaking with The Malta Independent, environmentalist and founder of the group Malta Clean up Cami Appelgren highlighted the danger that plastic poses for marine life.
“If you are littering and are unable to and don’t clean it up, then you are breaking the law,” she said. Cami explained that one can get permits to allow litter as long as it is cleaned up afterwards, as is seen during feasts and major public events. “The authorities should enforce the law, and if litter cannot be cleaned up, those littering should be fined.”
She recommends that the law be made more clear, to specifically mention balloon releases and plastic confetti. Cami said that her petition to ban balloon releases has reached 4,000 signatures, and some politicians have showed interest in possible legislation.
The Marsascala situation is not an isolated incident, she said, mentioning the release of balloons during festivities, and confetti in other areas as well. She said that she recently went with a net to Fomm ir-Rih and while it seems fine on the surface, using the net underwater she picked up four handfuls of plastic.
Marsascala Mayor Mario Calleja said that such issues occur in many other localities, stressing that some litter is normal in during such festivities not just locally, however said that he is not in favour of what happened and will, next time, tell them not to do it taking steps to ensure the situation does not repeat itself. In terms of land litter, he said that it was cleaned up overnight.
The Local Government ministry posted an image yesterday, showing the Cleansing and Maintenance Division using a net to pick-up some plastic during the day time after the Summer Carnival, however by that time it is unknown as to how much plastic went further out into the bay.
In response to questions, the ministry confirmed that the Cleansing and Maintenance Division took immediate action during the night to clean the areas as soon as the Summer Carnival activities both in St. Paul’s Bay and in Marsascala were over.
“The division did a thorough job and collected all the rubbish, swept the streets and power washed the area including the promenade. Early yesterday morning, the division also collected the paper and plastic and other material that fell in the sea.”