PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE Malta’s national fish released in Natura 2000 site

Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Jose Herrera attended the release of killifish, locally known as il-buzaqq, at il-Maghluq Natura 2000 site. This was done following close collaboration between Nature Trust Malta, the Ministry for Environment, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), and the Malta Aquaculture Research Centre.

Minister Herrera emphasised the importance of preserving our biodiversity following the loss of a number of species over the past years. He stated that this is a very important project as it is leading to the safeguarding and preservation of our biodiversity. He announced that his Ministry is working on having a genetics bank for flora and eventually also for animals in order to preserve the genetics of these species.

The killifish was declared as Malta’s national fish in 2018 and is Malta’s only true brackish water fish. ERA, as part of its work on this protected species and the site’s management plan, is implementing such a management plan in liaison with Nature Trust (Malta), in line with a Management Agreement between ERA and the NGO, which was signed in 2018. This management agreement includes various actions on site aimed at the enhancement of the area, as well as its native vegetation and wildlife.

ERA’s Deputy Director for the Environment and Resources Darrin Stevens highlighted the importance of protecting biodiversity and wild fauna and flora and conserving natural habitats. He explained that as a regulator in the environment sphere, ERA’s prime interest is to ensure sustainable management, in the process bettering our quality of life. Mr Stevens also noted how such pilot population reinforcement processes are an example of how different entities can work together to safeguard local fauna which is in need of immediate attention, thus safeguarding such species for posterity.

“Today we have reached another milestone where after a 4-year breeding project of one of our rare endemic species, and we are releasing back to the wild 125 killifish. We have at heart to halt biodiversity loss,” stated Mr Vince Attard, President of NatureTrust Malta.

Source: Government of Malta