Visit of the President of Malta-Press Release by the Office of the President – Oct 22, 2020

The President visits Malta-based Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC)

Despite the achievements of the past decades, considerable challenges must still be tackled to ensure the environmental protection of the Mediterranean region, as well as the sustainable and balanced development of the countries on the littoral, President of Malta George Vella said, during a visit to the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) in Valletta.

“Coastal areas and wildlife are still threatened by unsustainable development and uncontrolled pollution, such as from unprocessed sewage, oil spills, toxic discharges and plastics. Biodiversity is threatened by invasive species and the scraping of the seabed. Uncontrolled fisheries in many countries also endanger marine life,” the President told the Head and staff of the centre.

This was the first visit by a Head of State to this centre, administered by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and hosted in Malta since its establishment in 1976 as a Regional Activity Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP). REMPEC assists the Mediterranean coastal states in ratifying, transposing, implementing and enforcing international maritime conventions related to the prevention, preparedness, and response to pollution from ships. It also coordinates UNEP/MAP and IMO efforts and priorities, and supports Mediterranean coastal states in meeting these priority areas.

Following a presentation by Head of Office Gabino Gonzales Deogracia on the Centre’s priorities and achievements, the President commended REMPEC for its sterling work and remarked that it is very appropriate that its remit has evolved to reflect a growing sense of public awareness on the responsibility we all share for protecting the seas through effective management of maritime and marine resources.

“Environmental challenges are all the more real in the Mediterranean Sea, which has a high traffic density while also being a semi-enclosed sea and, therefore, far more vulnerable to the effects of pollution,” said the President. “Although awareness on pollution is rising, and more and more people are becoming involved in working towards less air pollution and waste management, environmental interest has mostly focused on land. It is only when maritime disasters happen that people suddenly realise the importance of keeping our seas pollution-free. We need to educate more on this front, and REMPEC is very well placed to fulfil this role.”

During his visit, the President also had the opportunity to meet and exchange views with the members of staff.