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MALTATODAY 3 April 2022

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 3 APRIL 2022 13 COMMERCIAL This is not surprising. When one compares this with other studies on the economic role of the sea at a national level, it confirms that the sea's current contribution to the local econ- omy is not that high. This rais- es the question of whether we need to create more employ- ment opportunities at sea and how this could be done with- out compromising the marine environment." highlights Ms Attard. "The survey also clearly shows that maritime and coastal spac- es are highly valued by the pub- lic for recreational activities such as diving, fishing, bathing and walking on promenades. Bathing (77%) proved to be the most popular recreational ac- tivity amongst Maltese, with Sliema being the most popular. This is not surprising since this locality is one of the most pop- ulated areas and has the longest coast immediately adjoining the conurbation. Coastal walks were the second most popular recreational ma- rine-related activity, and this appeared to be more attractive for the older generations." con- tinued Ms Attard. When it comes to what op- portunities the future holds for sea-related activities, the survey shows that Maltese see the potential and the multipli- er effect of further growth in this area. While tourism en- joys pride of place, with 80.6% claiming that this sector offers Malta enormous opportunities, 60.4% identified transportation as a possible sector for growth. "What is disheartening is that 96 per cent of respondents said they were unwilling to partic- ipate in the future of Marine Spatial Planning." she shares. "This is concerning, as public participation is key to forming transparent, robust maritime plans. Public participation is actually part of the data re- quired to develop an MSP plan. What does this show us? It is quite clear that we need to find new ways of encouraging peo- ple's choice to get involved. Here new, less rigid models of participation need to be ex- plored – one that moves away from the myth of a singular 'general public' toward one which is better adapted to en- gage in the social complexities of an increasingly globalized yet fragmented world; one that embraces community engage- ment and collaboration." notes Ms Attard. The outcomes of this survey, along with the PA's past work on the development of tools to encourage stakeholders and public involvement, will serve as foundation on the approach the PA will take for stakehold- er engagement in light of the SPED Review. "The pandemic gave us all a new appreciation for nature, and, as the survey reaffirmed, in Malta that includes appreci- ation for our seas. We saw that, when all else fails, nature is still there – but we must plan mar- itime uses carefully to provide a sustainable future while at the same time ensure that the sea and all of its resources are protected and preserved too." concluded Ms Attard. More information about the MSPMED project can be found online at project/.

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