Nicholai Abela on behalf of Stop the Slime and the author of the parliamentary petition in favour of protecting the marine environment and clean coastal waters wrote to the MPs on Tuesday demanding why no action has been taken on the first parliamentary petition presented to the House in May 2018 on the matter. The petition was aimed against the increase in tuna pens in the temporary location to the north-east of the island as well as it highlights the environmental issues which have resulted from tuna farming, including oil slicks, fish residues and other waste products from tuna confined in pens belonging to fish farms.
On Thursday, the Planning Authority had to decide on application by AJD Tuna in which it was proposed to increase the number of pens in the temporary location, however the decision was put off. The case officer’s report had recommended to the board to approve the application.
Parliamentary committee delaying for ‘no reason’
In his email to the house, Abela remarked that there was no reason for the Committee to delay the processing of the petition which was in favour of clean coastal waters and aimed to protect the marine environment. In his email to the MPs, Abela told them that on three separate occasions he had received a reply on why the decision was delayed, however he observed that their decision on the petition ‘should run autonomous and impartial to any outside influences’, in reply to their latest reply relating to the ‘present scenario’.
Abela quoted the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, reminding that petitions were a key element of participatory democracy and is a fundamental right of a European citizen. He finished off his email, saying that the inaction by Malta’s parliament left him with no avenue apart from taking action at the highest levels locally and at a European level.
PD leader and Opposition MP Godfrey Farrugia has also written to the Chairman of the Petitions Committee in parliament Chris Agius, in an open letter on his blog on Newsbook.com.mt.
Farrugia in his blog, quoted the Speaker of the House Anġlu Farrugia saying that this was a measure to empower the public and bring the citizen closer to parliament. In his blog, he remarked that the Committee was losing its credibility, competence, independence and integrity, prior to posting his open letter to Agius.
Farrugia had raised the issue of slime on a number of occasions, as well as has written to the Speaker only last week saying that the citizens requests were being ignored. Farrugia was informed that the Committee was taking stock of the ongoing discussion on the subject and would convene at an opportune moment.