Beach Regeneration in Malta

November 6, 2018

A bird's eye view of Balluta Bay in the popular and ever lively Maltese resort of St Julian's

IMAGE: Malta Tourism Authority

Maltese beaches are best known for the scenic views that the islands have to offer. Whether rocky or sandy, the beaches around the Maltese Islands attract thousands of people every year. With the popular beaches being sought out by both locals and foreigners, certain beaches around the island needed a revamp, both for environmental reasons, as well as for accessibility and recreational purposes.


In the past 15 years projects such as the replenishment and extension of the sandy beach at St George’s Bay (2004 and 2015 respectively) and the development of the perched beach at Bugibba (2006) were implemented as part of coastal zone management initiatives pertaining to beach development projects carried out by the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) around the island. Following its replenishment in 2004, St George’s Bay was the first beach to be recognised as a Blue Flag beach a year later. Since then another 11 beaches were awarded Blue Flag status by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE International). These beaches have consistently achieved the standard required to reach and maintain this status through the facilities they offer to beach users, the management provided, as well as the measures taken to safeguard the environment.


The latest in the MTA’s string of beach regeneration projects were undertaken in July 2018 at Balluta Bay, St Julian's.





The Balluta Bay regeneration project saw sand from the seabed being harvested and brought to shore in order to build up the sandy area of the beach and combat the effects of coastal erosion

IMAGE: Malta Tourism Authority

The Balluta Bay regeneration project is an experimental renourishment project in which sand found on the seabed further out from the same bay was used to increase the sandy area. The embayment is at the confluence of three valleys that drained into the sea. Due to extensive construction that took place around the bay over the years, the flow from the valleys was highly reduced and later obliterated, resulting in starvation and a lack of replenishment material for the beach. This, together with the impacts of coastal construction built within the bay, such as a restaurant and a water polo club, brought about the erosion of the beach, which eventually resulted in the near complete loss of the sandy beach at this popular bay.


Through this experimental project, sand that was lost over the years and deposited at the centre of the bay was recovered through grab dredging and used to extend the beach area. Through this intervention, a total of 1,350 m3 of sand were recovered and a 1,150 m2 beach was created.



IMAGE: Malta Tourism Authority

In view that the conditions leading to the erosion of the beach were not removed, the likelihood that the beach will erode over time is high, though how long this would take to materialise is not known. For this reason, the beach is being carefully monitored including through mapping of the seabed habitats, water quality testing, beach profiles, and aerial footage using drones to determine the extent of erosion/stability of the beach, which would advise future management interventions at this and other sites.


In the meantime, the MTA and the Ministry for Tourism continue with their efforts to regenerate sandy beaches which have been lost over the years as well as to manage Malta’s beaches to Blue Flag status.

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