Be Safe At Sea

‘Be Safe at Sea’ is the name of the educational campaign launched by Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg. This campaign, which is being carried out by Transport Malta, is aimed at increasing the sense of responsibility in all those who drive a sea vessel or swim. This is being done in anticipation of the imminent start of summer, which will lead Malta’s residents and those who choose to visit our country to start spending more time at the sea.

The Minister emphasised that just as the Ministry, the Authority and the Malta Road Safety Council always strive to promote safe behaviour on the road, this should not be lacking when it comes to behaviour at sea. He said that as time goes by, more Maltese citizens are becoming boat owners, and it is therefore important to increase our efforts to educate on a wider spectrum regarding appropriate behaviour on this means.

Minister Borg stated that we cannot accept a lack of responsibility on any means which require driving. It is not acceptable that some mix leisure with substances such as alcohol, especially when one needs to manoeuvre a boat of any size. He also pointed out that one must always conform to speed limits, meaning a limit of 10 knots from 200 metres away from rocks, and from 300 metres away from sandy beaches and ports, and between 3 and 5 knots within bays and near marinas and berths.

He said that the Authority’s campaign will not simply stop at those who drive a vessel. As is done in the case of roads, said the Minister, even those outside the vessel, in this case, swimmers, need to be responsible for their safety and the safety of those around them. He said that the Authority will start setting out dedicated swimming zones around the two islands—around 50 zones in places which are popular with those who enjoy the sea during these summer months.

The Minister said that, unfortunately, education on its own is not enough. Experience has shown that an element of enforcement is also necessary, even at sea. In 2017, the enforcement unit carried out 894 inspections at sea. Out of these inspections, 507 vessels were found to be non-conformant to regulations resulting in the issuing of 239 warnings and 268 contraventions. Apart from these, 1,346 more inspections were carried out in the Blue Lagoon on its own throughout last year. Throughout this year, even as summer has not yet begun, 251 inspections have already been carried out, out of which 158 vessels were found to be conformant.

“Although these numbers are satisfying because I can see the work being done by the authorities, I am not happy that we still have a number of people who do not conform to regulations—our aim is to continue reducing the number of warnings and contraventions”, said Minister Borg.

The Minister thanked the Authority, the Malta Road Safety Council, and the several directorates which do their utmost for our seas to be safe. He also expressed his appreciation for the employees who spend several hours away from their families to ensure that the seas are safe for all those who wish to enjoy them. He concluded by saying that the government is committed to working on every level so that safety is enhanced, but that it is also important that each and every one of us be responsible and prudent for ourselves and those around us, both on the road and at sea.