The incoming Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects addressed the MMF-WestMed conference on Blue Skills held to coincide with European Maritime Day.

In a brief welcome address, the Hon Dr. Aaron Farrugia declared that his main focus as the new Minister over the coming months was to see through multi-million euro investments into a plethora of maritime related infrastructural projects such as the Grand Harbour Clean Air project. He said that these investments dovetailed Government’s vision to have a 21st Century infrastructure to serve the maritime industry of the 21st Century. Government’s initiatives will facilitate the transformation of all these sectors towards decarbonisation.

The Minister referred to the COP 26 Conference held last November and which he attended with the Prime Minister wherein it was recognised that the sea plays a crucial role in harnessing climate change. Hon Farrugia said that ocean literacy, therefore, can help us move towards carbon-neutrality at a faster pace. The adoption of similar technologies as floating windfarms and wave energy can be applied in Malta to reach this objective. He said that these applications could complement other simpler solutions such as the shifting of a larger proportion of road traffic to waterborne transport through the use of ferry services.

The Minister praised the initiatives being undertaken by the private sector to which he pledged his full support. He recalled the visit he made a week earlier to MaritimeMT on the occasion of their new course, the STCW Officer of the Watch unlimited which was launched together with an international partnership to offer the same course in Greece through the Malta facilities. Hon Farrugia commended the school for its state of the art facilities as well as for its initiative in creating strategic alliances to enhance its role at an international level.

Minister Farrugia said that his presence at the conference signified his full support for discussion about the skill sets which are required in the industry now and those that will be needed over the next 10-15 year window.  He said that his presence was also evidence to the fact that he shared the same objectives as those of the Organisers in pushing for more opportunities in the blue economy and maritime careers. He said that he was completely supportive of enhancing the Industry through the exchange of knowledge, the incentivization of research in Malta and abroad, the upskilling of the existing workforce as well as by nurturing the necessary skills in people entering the industry

In conclusion, the Minister said that Government was committed to making ocean literacy top of the agenda by prioiritising the development of this policy area. He said that close cooperation between all Mediterranean countries and key stakeholders is a condition for realizing our common objective for sustainable and conservation of our main common resource – that is the sea.

Karin Grech
Author: Karin Grech