Marine ‘Econology’ is a prerequisite for the successful integration of the Integrated Maritime Policy. It concerns the integration of economic development and ecological sustainability. The objective is to attain and maintain a balance between economic development and the protection of the environment. This approach will be adopted in the development of the Blue Economy.
This balance can be reached through the consolidation of regulatory studies. Marine Knowledge is a key component in providing the information for the sustainable use of natural resources in the marine and coastal environments, and to ensure effective and sustainable plans for exploitation.
Maritime Spatial Planning
Coastal and marine related economic activities, if not properly managed, have the potential to produce undesirable environmental outcomes, particularly if such activities are not assigned well to the most suitable offshore locations. .
The European Parliament and the Council adopted Directive 2014/89 establishing a European framework for maritime spatial planning in an effort for Member States to develop national maritime spatial plans by 2021. The scope of the National legislation is to improve transparency in the planning process so as to encourage investments and facilitate a balanced approach between relevant sectors and stakeholders. This will be achieved by deploying maritime spatial planning as a mechanism to ensure coherence between environmental, societal and economic objectives. The plans will be subject to reviews every ten years.
The intensive use of Maltese waters for cultural, social and economic purposes, all, indicate that Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is needed both to improve the synergy and efficiency between users and also to avoid the degradation of natural resources, and conflicts in their exploitation. Maritime spatial planning is complimentary to integrated coastal zone management, which helps in facilitating an interaction between land- and sea-borne activities. MSP and ICZM are implemented in a coordinated way with a view to sustainable development of the coastal and maritime areas. These tools become even more vital when considering future projects such as sustainable land reclamation. Planning is only one element of the marine spatial management process. This process includes additional elements of implementation, enforcement, monitoring, evaluation, research, public participation, and financing—all of which must be present to carry out effective management over time. The Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED, 2015) is intended to replace the Structure Plan for the Maltese Islands of 1990 and is to provide a strategic spatial policy framework. This framework will incorporate both environment protection and also development up to the year 2020, thereby complimenting Government’s social, economic and environmental objectives vision for the same period.
Special Marine Protection Areas
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are specialised designated zones of the seas and coasts where marine life is protected and preserved. Marine Protected Areas are essential for healthy functioning and resilient ecosystems. MPAs are intended to protect and restore the ecosystems in our seas and around our coasts whilst ensuring that the species and habitats thrive.
Special marine protected areas (SPAs) include zones which include underwater cultural heritage, (e.g., wrecks, ruins, submerged landscapes, wells and traces of marine exploitation but also caves and natural formations which have resulted from natural disasters.
The effective management of MPAs will lead to employment and economic activities exceeding the costs involved for the proper management of the respective sites.
The Government is committed to establishing and maintaining Marine Protection Areas, whilst collaborating with neighbouring countries to establish MPAs in high seas. This will increase economic opportunities through proper management of resources.
The Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) promotes sustainable use of water, based on long-term protection of available water resources and aims at enhancing protection and the improvement of the aquatic environment, through specific measures for the progressive reduction and phasing-out of discharges, emissions and losses of priority hazardous substances.
The prime objective of Marine Strategy Framework Directive is to achieve “Good Environmental Status” of the Marine Environment up to 2020. These goals need to be achieved within the context of sustainable development whilst also enabling the growth of the economic sectors. Malta has already carried out an initial assessment on its environmental status finalised in 2013. This initial assessment has identified threats, mitigating factors to establishing quantitatively what good environmental status means for Malta. A distinct lack of data has been identified as one of the main factors which negate efforts towards achieving GES.
Malta is actively participating in the Mediterranean region to promote regional coherency in pollution control and prevention. The Mediterranean, as a region, has lagged behind in achieving environmental objectives which has subsequently resulted in an increased level of pollution. The need to intensify all efforts therefore and address the various sources of marine pollution increases in urgency, e.g., in relation to persistent organic pollutants, nitrates, hydrocarbons, lost or abandoned fishing gear and others. In addition, EU environmental related legislation such as the Marine Strategy Framework, and Maritime Spatial Planning Directives both require the application of an ecosystem-based approach. Such an approach is intended to promote the sustainable development growth of the maritime and coastal economies through sustainable resource application. Implementing an ‘Ecosystem-based approach’ requires specific sea-basin scientific knowledge and data. Data resources are then interpreted into information to guide the national approach to the sustainable development of its offshore, and also, in the case of Malta to establish a regionally-harmonised based approach, i.e., The Sea-Basin Strategy for the Western Mediterranean. .This is a challenging endeavour, but Malta will support the establishment of a macro-regional Sea-Basin Strategy for the West Mediterranean that will lead to an enhanced level of cooperation between the respective States with the aim of achieving sustainable economic development and prosperity within the region.
1. A legislative framework with an overarching goal of promoting the ecologically sustainable use of marine resources to provide a foundation for the holistic management of all marine resources. . All parties concerned must be legally bound to consistently undertake their business activities in accordance with established overriding goals.
2. Optimal Zoning is a key underpinning element to achieve the envisioned sustainable exploitation of finite natural resources. In an effort to achieve this goal, it is imperative that the National Maritime Spatial Plans being implemented by the National Planning Authority are incorporated as a part of the Integrated Maritime Policy objectives, in a coordinated and balanced manner.
3. Feasibility studies will be properly undertaken to ascertain successful, coherent and sustainable development of growth opportunities. These will include environmental impact assessments on potential innovative development opportunities such as land reclamation and LNG bunkering
The sphere of Environmental protection provides an opportunity to develop Marine Protected Areas. These will in turn, lead to opportunities in the coastal, marine and nautical tourism and scientific research sectors amongst others. MPAs offer economic benefits too which can be derived and sustained through a balanced use of resources whilst at the same time through sustainable management protecting the integrity of the ecological systems.
Marine Security & Safety
Safety and security at sea are undoubtedly elements that create the necessary conditions indispensible for economic growth. The effective adoption and enforcement of internationally-agreed rules and standards, in particular those endorsed by the International Maritime Organisation and the International Labour Organisation, are essential to ensure a level playing-field for safe, secure and environmentally friendly shipping of global trade. The core principles advocated by international maritime institutions will always be set high on Malta’s political agenda and the Government will be instrumental in ensuring that any future maritime related EU policies are aligned closely with international standards.
The EU’s maritime industry contributes significantly to the global European economy. Therefore, ensuring that the European maritime sector keeps abreast with the latest technological, political and legislative developments is crucial for Europe to maintain its leading position. It is recognised that further action is required to maintain and attract safe and sustainable quality shipping to the European Union. In this regard, the Government is committed to offer its input and contribution within the EU decision-making processes.
In such a dynamic environment, good governance is vital to improve Malta’s standing vis-à-vis the security and safety services it offers within its ports and for all the maritime activities carried out within its waters.
Transport Malta is the responsible authority for maritime and port security, which includes also the general security of Malta’s marinas. Furthermore, Transport Malta is supported by the Armed Forces of Malta for the monitoring of maritime activities at other coastal areas and of offshore activities, as well as the involvement of the Police Force in carrying out port security operations.
Port security is regulated by Regulation (EC) No 725/2004 on enhancing ship and port facility security and Directive 2005/65/EC on enhancing port security. Malta has maintained its reputation of having a very good standard of port security and overall, has a satisfactory compliance history with the respective EU legislation. The Government will actively seek to strengthen standard safety practices and procedures through further infrastructural investments and the development of the relevant expertise. Nevertheless, the minor shortcomings, which are present, have to be addressed by better allocating resources and by coordinating between the relevant competent entities.
The major ports housing critical and strategic assets (such as the Ricasoli Tank Cleaning Farm and Kordin Grain Terminal) are under continuous surveillance and monitoring. Considerable progress has been registered in this regard in recent decades and more targeted efforts will be pursued.
In 2014, the European Council has recently adopted the European Union Maritime Security Strategy for the global maritime domain and an action plan to implement the Strategy. The objective of this Strategy is to provide a common framework for relevant authorities at national and European levels to ensure coherent development of their specific policies and to organise a European response to maritime threats and risks. Malta supports both the Strategy and action plan as they are aimed towards safeguarding the EU’s strategic maritime interests and promotes options to act and cooperate accordingly.
Search and Rescue
The geopolitical situation within the Mediterranean Sea Basin has always posed challenges for Malta’s obligations with respect to its Search and Rescue Area - obligations which Malta has always met with great determination.
In December 2015, the European Commission presented the Proposal for the establishment of a European Border and Coast Guard which replace and significantly reinforce the mandate of Frontex (the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the EU) in the fields of external border management and return, including search and rescue operations. Malta will participate in the current and future discussions on this Proposal.
Maritime Crisis Response and Contingency Planning
The Civil Protection Department within the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security is responsible for the general safety and protection of society by coordinating its capabilities and available resources within Government Ministries such as the Police Corp, the Armed Forces and the Health Authorities. A Marine Operations Unit was created as first response in case of sea-based accidents and includes the management of oil spills, a marine fire fighting unit and a life boat rescue system.
Transport Malta is the National Competent Authority responsible for the coordination of all stakeholders during a response operation at sea, tasked with enhancing and managing national capabilities, resources and preparedness in the eventuality of pollution incidents. All operations are coordinated by the Transport Malta’s Emergency Control Centre, with the assistance of the Armed Forces, the Police Force, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) and the Civil Protection Department. Other parties which might be included in a pollution control exercise are the Health Department, the Regional Marine Pollution Response Centre for the Mediterranean (REMPEC) and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
Improved coordination between the activities of the Police Force, the Armed Forces and the Civil Protection Department is evidently necessary to maintain Malta’s positive reputation as a secure destination for maritime activities, as well as to ensure Malta’s economic development within its extensive maritime territory.
Malta has been an active supporter of the European Maritime Safety Agency. Besides supporting the EU in the development and implementation of legislation related to maritime safety, pollution by ships and maritime security, it has also been given operational tasks in the field of oil pollution response, vessel monitoring and in long range identification and tracking of vessels.
1. This policy document recommends the establishment of a Single Maritime Crisis Response and Contingency Planning Force within the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security that would incorporate the elements of maritime safety, security and surveillance. The establishment of this Force would enhance accountability and coordination, reduce duplication of work and avoid unnecessary bureaucracy. The development of a unified maritime position will provide the necessary conditions ensuring the protection, safety and security of Malta’s maritime assets.
2. The continuous improvement and upgrading of real-time surveillance solutions including satellite systems, along with situational and analytical technology, skills and capacity, will enhance maritime safety, security and surveillance. It is evident that Malta needs to improve its surveillance systems particularly for offshore activities. This may be done in collaboration with the private industry which may be technically better equipped than the Government to provide reliable surveillance services in line with the specifications required by the State.
3. Malta’s policy in respect to ports infrastructure was always based on a reactionary approach and thus decisions were mostly taken as a response to economic developments that had already taken place rather than pre-empting future trends. Consequently, it is imperative that such policy is no longer advocated and a more proactive policy approach and future-geared decision making process is adopted. This is essential to ensure appropriate preparedness for economic growth and developments. Infrastructural decisions taken proactively will contribute to the effective implementation of security and safety measures both within harbours and offshore.
A study, commissioned by the European Commission under the framework of the Integrated Maritime Policy, on the costs and benefits arising from the establishment of maritime zones indicate that Malta has yet to claim its territory. The study identifies the threats and opportunities of such a decision and concludes that Malta will be a net beneficiary, aiming for growth in the fisheries industry and a sustainable plan for the marine conservation and environmental protection zones.
Education has to be the basis for Malta’s transformation into a maritime centre of excellence. To really harness the growth potential of the maritime sector, the need for a skilled and flexible workforce is evident, particularly with the rapid technological advances affecting the various maritime economic activities. Malta’s main resource is undoubtedly human capital and this has been proven time and again throughout the centuries. This has enabled the Island to be resilient to the drastic changes experienced in the global economic environment. This is particularly true for the maritime sector, where a wide spectrum of skills and expertise are required in a very volatile and dynamic environment. Hence, maritime education is prescribed as a core dimension of our Integrated Maritime Policy to ensure the survival and further development of our maritime sector.
At present there are significant shortcomings in the maritime education sector with considerable employment skills mismatches being identified. The lack of awareness and the sometimes negative perception of the sector are two of the main reasons why there seems to be a deficit of skills in the maritime field. The Government is committed to increasing the visibility of the sector and emulate the very positive results achieved through awareness campaigns, particularly those directed towards the financial services and ICT industries. Career guidance and student exposure to the various opportunities available within the maritime sector will trigger a new wave of enthusiasm within the blue field and attract skilled personnel willing to work in the sector.
The compilation of an employability index for the maritime sector will provide a clear picture of the skills gap present in the market and how this will affect the economy in the future. This tool will enable both the Government and the private sector to identify the most adequate approach to mitigate the gaps present and anticipate any changes in trends. Accurate data of human capital in the maritime sector is imperative to ensure a proper assessment is carried out and in turn, the effective implementation of the policy. The current educational structure does not cater for the specific needs of the maritime sector and even though a Maritime Institute does exist as part of the MCAST complex, there are still recognised deficiencies in the provision of a holistic maritime education. At European level, DG Mare has embarked on a research study to determine the feasibility, added value and available options to set up a network/s or support existing networks in the Mediterranean sea basin to address the skills shortage in the blue economy.
The Government will be exploring close partnerships with internationally recognised educational institutions with the aim of establishing good working relations at an academic level, allowing for facilitated student exchange programs and the sharing of information and knowledge. The establishment of a sound institutional framework and international network of respectable educational organisations will ensure a constant pool of high level expertise, providing an ideal competitive edge for an island like Malta. A reliable and constant flow of human capital would undoubtedly strengthen Malta’s position in the blue economy and develop it into a leading maritime destination.
The Government believes that through the establishment of a Maritime Education Development Council, it will create and promote the necessary educational platforms to encourage individuals to enrol in maritime related courses. The Council will be tasked to encourage links between the education sector and industry in order to promote labour mobility, transferability of skills and the development of educational services, particularly relating to innovative areas arising from future developments in the blue economy. Hence, it will offer diverse learning opportunities ranging from the training of seafarers to the provision of courses related to offshore industry, alternative energy sources, port management, ship management and other back office support services, by cooperating with existing institutions.
Research and Innovation
Countries with finite natural resources, such as Malta, depend on applied research and innovation to foster economic growth. These have been the driving force behind the success of many local industries. For Malta’s maritime sector, research and innovation is still in its development stage. However, with the establishment of Malta Marittima, the Government will seek to develop a targeted and crosscutting research programme, aimed at realising the high growth potential of the blue economy. Furthermore, this research programme would support the maritime sector to create market led opportunities which are sustainable, have high growth potential and provide high value added economic activities. This can be achieved through strategies that will: i) strengthen the competitiveness of traditional marine industries and facilitate progression to higher value added activities and ii) expand knowledge and explore interfaces between disciplines.
The maritime sector in Malta is predominantly comprised of SMEs and micro enterprises. The proposed Maritime Education Development Council (MEDC), in collaboration with the Ministry for Education and Employment and other institutions, will cooperate with the private sector to create a research and innovation platform. This public-private sector cooperation would lead to the formulation of initiatives to address the needs of the maritime sector.
Through private stakeholder participation, the Government will identify areas that will generate an increase in value added economic activities. In addition, the Government will encourage local enterprise participation in all EU Framework Programmes, particularly through Horizon 2020. Education will be key to drive innovation. Hence, the Government will be committed to increase closer collaboration between institutions and maritime industries in this area. In conjunction with MCST, the Government will identify funds and promote innovative technology transfer initiatives across the four Blue Growth focus areas as identified by Government: Food, Energy, Logistics and Services.
1. A more structured and integrated approach needs to be adopted in order to strengthen the research aspect of the Maritime Sector. Increased coordination and cooperation with other research institutions is essential at the local and international level.
2. The sharing of data and information, particularly which relate to market research, is one of the elements that the Integrated Maritime Policy will attempt to address. Malta should explore further academic relationships with foreign educational institutions and follow international best practices to keep abreast with the development in the global market. This action is aimed to complement the development of the “Virtual Knowledge Centre”, under the IMP-MED project - an initiative with close collaboration of the European Commission, European Investment Bank and International Maritime Organization. This Centre will allow the consolidation and sharing of all the relevant and available technical and sectorial information in the Mediterranean region, which as a result, would facilitate coordination and cooperation to promote investments and innovation, as well as support blue entrepreneurship at sea basin level.
3. The identification and allocation of funds specifically directed towards research and development in the maritime sector is to be encouraged and pursued, even through joint initiatives with the private sector.
Carrying out a study of the new niche markets will lead to the identification of potential economic growth activities. Furthermore, the Government aims to direct the necessary resources towards feasible and realistic growth targets.
An Integrated Governance Framework
The maritime sector is a vast and dynamic area, with activities which can significantly overlap. This overlap can be spatially and/or temporally complementary or conflicting in nature.. The Blue Economy is a term which refers to the sustainably managed growth of the existing and potential activities and opportunities in the offshore domain. Constraints to effectively integrating all efforts in the sector, due to sheer size and diversity of the areas, is exacerbated by theinherent fragmentation. This limits the overarching development potential of the sector overall and consequently restricts the benefits that can be achieved. Optimal synchronisations of the sector will replace the apparent disintegration present in both the private and public sector in Malta. This will be achieved through the coordinated efforts of Government principally via its new Agency, ‘Malta Marittima’, Concerted attempts are to be made to increase coordination and interaction in order to exploit the full potential that the Maltese maritime sector is capable of offering.
1. The ongoing efforts in reducing and simplifying bureaucracy and the associated processes are an integral part of the public sector. The Agency aims to provide a top quality service in a timely and coherent manner in the sphere of the maritime industries which seeks to establish and identify the Agency as an ‘Enabler’ in the economic market. Such principles will create a framework that goes beyond establishing an enabling economic environment but one that also offers bespoke services to meet the needs of individual business investors to maximise growth and their economic contribution. Reduction of bureaucracy will be achieved, amongst various other measures, by the direct result of the developments in e-Government with particular emphasis on e-Maritime solutions such as the National Single Window where all information may be shared between government entities thus contributing towards better governance and increased transparency.
2. The Agency will strive to implement the existing legal framework in an effective and efficient manner with the scope to establish and strengthen legal certainty, reducing regulatory burdens and administrative bottlenecks with a view to enhancing the level of foreign investment.
Government intends to extend the Digital Malta strategy to incorporate E-Maritime solutions. The vision of Digital Malta for business development is complimentary to that for the maritime sector and can provide numerous opportunities for growth in the field, leading to a marked improvement in the performance of the blue area. E-Maritime development together with the establishment of an Agency will lead to effective coordination across the board, as well as, the creation of a promotion platform for the maritime sector, both locally and internationally. Moreover, this will ensure that Malta will be in line with the EU e-Maritime initiative that drives the use of information technologies in the maritime transport sector. Malta has always looked favourably towards EU initiatives which refer to the simplification of port processes such as the national single window, e-maritime initiative and the Blue Belt project, as these are aimed at cutting unnecessary red tape and also to upgrade a ports’ efficiency. This will allow for marine vessels to operate freely within the EU internal market with minimum administrative burden.