Balluta Bay objectors will pursue further legal action to stop the ‘hogging of our seas’

Moviment Graffitti

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Objectors to a new hop-on-hop-off ferry service at Balluta Bay have promised to pursue with legal action to stop the project. The group which is being led by Moviment Graffitti, is composed of 87 individuals, St Julian’s Local Council and NGOs.

In a statement on Thursday morning, the group denounced a statement released by the Fortina Group on Monday in which it said that its ferry service will start operating this summer, insisting that all it was creating at Balluta Bay was a “temporary and reversible bus stop at sea”.

The Fortina Group had said that its vessels will not enter Ballutta Bay. It added that €20 million were invested in the iSeeMalta service and that this would start operating this summer. The service is aimed at offering an alternative mode of transport, the group claimed.

The group said that the entire bay from Balluta Bay right past the St Julian’s waterpolo pitch is an official bathing zone where members of the public may swim, kayak, dive and engage in different watersports. The objectors noted that the much smaller roped-off swimming zones within the official bathing zone are there to exclude jet skis and other vessels.

“It does not mean that all swimmers have to be confined to those small areas. We are not tuna fish to be restricted to pens,” the objectors said.

The objectors noted that despite the claims by the Fortina Group that this was “temporary”, there was no mention of the word in the approved application. It remarked that the project had been announced by then-prime minister Joseph Muscat in October 2019, well before the permits were approved by the relevant authority, “showing another done deal even though the public objected in droves”.

The 87-strong individuals, St Julian’s local council and the NGOs remarked that the developer group’s record speaks for itself, noting that the same group had littered the Sliema Ferries with “cheap and unsightly” ticket booths.

“We see what you represent and we will pursue further legal action to stop you hogging our seas,” the objectors said.