A broad coalition of NGOs and citizens are reiterating their demand to curb the excessive commercial activity at the Blue Lagoon in order to address the current unsustainable situation on Comino.
“Intense commercial activity linked to mass tourism is leading to rapid environmental degradation of this Natura 2000 site and hindering the public’s enjoyment of this unique island reserve.
Among the demands put forward last summer during protests which garnered mass public support, the organisations called for the ban of large commercial sightseeing boats carrying tourists, which transform the Blue Lagoon into a congested, litter-infested, space in a matter of minutes.
Moreover, it is of great concern that Government has been steadfastly refusing to publish the results of the carrying capacity study for Comino and the Blue Lagoon, already commissioned by ERA.
Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo recently claimed that a carrying capacity study for the Blue Lagoon cannot be carried out before considering this summer’s changes to the management of the area, which indicates that Minister Bartolo does not understand what a carrying capacity study is. Since the island’s management plan was published, the daily number of visitors to the Blue Lagoon has increased, not decreased, from 5000 a day in 2016 to a staggering 8000 a day this summer. We demand that the results of the commissioned carrying capacity study are published so that the public may see what the authorities should actually be doing to properly manage tourism on Comino.
We can celebrate that the public pressure exerted last summer successfully abolished deckchairs from the jetty and beach, reduced the number of allowed deckchairs overall, and improved the waste collection. However, we stand by our claim that relocating a deckchair operator to an area not previously exploited for this purpose is unacceptable and cannot be in line with Comino’s management plan as a Natura 2000 site. ERA and Environment Minister Miriam Dalli have remained shamefully silent regarding such failures on their watch.
The organisations also remind Ministers Bartolo and Dalli that the number of deckchairs was not the only demand put forward last year. Indeed, the number of kiosks at the Blue Lagoon have also shot up, with as many as 11 different stalls running concurrently in the past years. The same can be said about the number of larger commercial vessels berthing at, and disembarking tourists on, the Blue Lagoon.”
The groups reiterate their demands to:
- Prohibit large boats carrying hundreds of tourists to Comino;
- Drastically reduce the number and size of kiosks;
- Abolish all music from kiosks and boats and loud generators;
- Control all commercial activity around the Blue Lagoon to operate on the basis of permits, with strict rules regarding permitted activities and waste management.
The organisations behind the joint statement are Birdlife Malta, Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Għawdix, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta – FEE and Ramblers Association Malta.