The Malta Tourism Authority earlier on Monday coordinated the scuttling of former AFM Patrol Boat P31 off the west coast of Comino, to add to the number of underwater attractions for scuba divers visiting Ċirkewwa and Comino and will complement other underwater attractions also found at this dive site.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, the Hon. Dr Mario de Marco said that the Maltese Islands last year attracted almost 55,000 ‘diving’ tourists with the majority hailing from the UK, Germany and Italy.
He added that Malta has over 20 particular diving attractions, with nine of these being purposely scuttled vessels for diving; and that today’s scuttling is part of a two-phase project to scuttle two patrol boats. The first was the P29 which was scuttled in Ċirkewwa in August 2007.
Dr de Marco said that the Maltese diving product is renowned the world over with the diving community. “Malta has been voted the third best diving destination in the world by some 35,000 readers of UK publication Diver Magazine, preceded only by Egypt and the Maldives, thus making Malta effectively the top diving site in Europe and the Mediterranean.”
He also referred to the process of the scuttling which included an Environmental Impact Assessment carried out to assess the environmental impact of this project. As a result of the studies, the scuttling location was shifted by approximately 30 metres to avoid important sea grass beds. In fact, the boat was scuttled on bare sand, completely avoiding the important sea grass beds.
He concluded by thanking the various entities involved in the scuttling, which included the Malta Tourism Authority’s Product Development Directorate, the Malta Marine Foundation, the Armed Forces of Malta, MEPA, the Civil Protection Department, the Malta Maritime Authority, and the Administrative Law Enforcement Unit.