A security guard employed by the Ministry of Resources and Rural Authority (MRRA) is to be removed from his job at Gnejna Bay after his own behaviour threatened the turtle nest he was sent to protect. A day after Gnejna Bay was declared an Emergency Conservation Area (ECA) by MEPA to ensure that the maximum protection for the site where a marine turtle laid a number of eggs on Wednesday, a security guard drove his car down to the beach, seemingly drunk, beamed his car lights onto the beach and even urinated near the nest.
The incident happened early Sunday morning at 1.00am. It is believed that members of the public reported this behaviour to MEPA. MEPA said that a surveillance system was being set up operated jointly by MEPA, MRRA and Nature Trust (Malta).
On Friday MEPA issued the ECA to prohibit a number of activities from being carried out in the designated area including:
- vehicular parking and use of caravans in the ECA;
- excessive noise and loud music; no music is allowed between 20:00 hrs and 08:00 hrs;
- camping, campfires, barbeques, any other open fires, or any large organised events are not permissible at all times;
- no animals shall be allowed on the Gnejna bay;
- only manual beach cleaning is allowed, and this is not allowed in the areas cordoned off, unless there is prior consultation with MEPA;
- beach users shall not trespass any enclosures at all times;
- any large, deep holes left by beach users shall be filled in before leaving the area.
The Emergency Conservation order, which is valid for the next 6 months unless otherwise revoked by the Authority, was issued after consultation with the Ministry for Tourism, Culture and the Environment; Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs; the Mġarr Local Council; and Nature Trust (Malta).
Late Friday MEPA said: “The general public is invited to report any evidence of marine turtles or turtle activity to MEPA on 22907102 during office hours; or else contact MEPA on 99210404 or 99381811 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.