TRAVEL

Sustainable Beach Management

June 1, 2017

By Pauline Dingli

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IMAGE: VIEWINGMALTA.COM

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Over the past few years, a proper beach management initiative covering sandy beaches and some parts of the rocky shore was implemented by the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA). Sustainable management is operated with a priority to environmental education. This includes the installation of information panels about the ecosystems, and panels highlighting a Code of Conduct for beach users. The separation of waste, monitoring of the water quality, services offered and safety are assessed through beach supervisors and lifeguards. Beach staff is trained on the natural beach processes, flora, fauna and marine species to understand better their sensitive surroundings.

 

Environmental activities implemented on an annual basis include coastal and countryside walks, clean-ups, nature photography sessions, water preservation activities, bird watching, star gazing, snorkeling and diving events, and visits to nature and marine museums amongst others. Awareness campaigns with school children are ongoing throughout the summer months. These include waste separation games, quizzes, T shirt painting, hats and masks creations, photographic competitions and much more. Every event addresses an environmental subject.

 

 

IMAGE: Malta Tourism Authority

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Beach campaigns are organised every year advocating against littering and dispersal of cigarette butts in the sand. Various types of ash trays are created and distributed to beach users around the Maltese Islands. In addition, attractive ash receptacles are distributed on the beaches next to every access in an effort to achieve litter-free shores. Educational campaigns promote this effort for continued success. Other campaigns include safety against excessive exposure to UV radiation from the sun and the promotion of reading on the beach, where books are made available freely for use by beachgoers.

 

IMAGE: Malta Tourism Authority

These sustainable management initiatives have earned the MTA a number of international awards with more beaches awarded each year. In 2017, the prestigious Blue Flag was awarded to twelve beaches on the islands.

 

The Blue Flag programme is operated by the Federation for Environmental Education (FEE) based in Denmark and represented in Malta by Nature Trust. The programme has 29 established criteria which must be abided by and the Blue Flag is awarded only when all 100% of the criteria are met.

 

The island of Gozo will boast of three such awards in 2017. Sustainable beach management was extended to an additional two beaches in the south of Malta as well as on the small Island of Comino where a further two beaches are being managed by the Ministry for Gozo.

 

 

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IMAGE: Malta Tourism Authority

During winter, all beach infrastructure is removed, maintained and stored, leaving the beaches free for the environmental elements to act on the natural processes. Sea grass is left to pile up where marine species are attracted to nest within during the winter months.

 

As with any other change, the introduction of beach management encountered some resistance at first. In fact, during the initial stages of beach management, feedback from the general public was not always positive and some measures implemented were criticized, but with explanations and education, people now understand that our environment is our future, and that we need to nurture and protect it.

 

Through a professional ongoing programme of beach management, MTA is doing its part, together with others, in the propagation of sustainable practices on the Maltese Islands.

 

 

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