The Palm tree has several uses other than landscaping. It is a common tradition to use the fronds of the
Phoenix species in the fishing industry.
In the month of August, it is a common practice for fishermen to cut hundreds of palm fronds, which are
used as sheltering grounds for dolphin fish “lampuki” in the traditional “kannizzati” fishing method. This
practice of palm frond removal should be immediately followed by preventive treatments (insecticide
treatment and wood filling application) as the Red Palm Weevil is attracted to freshly damaged palm fronds
and uses these fresh cuts for depositing eggs.
The primary focus is on the Canary Palm (Phoenix canariensis) which is one of the most susceptible palm
trees found locally. This is the largest among the palms, having long bright green fronds with sharp thorns at
the base. Malta, along with other European countries, is being faced with a major pest problem; the Red
Palm Weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) which is a palm tree borer capable of killing palm trees within a
short period of time (months). The Red Palm Weevil is also capable to fly long distances and infest other
palm trees. Thus, it is important that any palm fronds to be used for such purposes have to originate from
Red Palm Weevil-free trees to prevent the spreading of this pest.
The fronds have to be cut as short as possible so as to minimise infective areas which are generally
concentrated at the base of the fronds. The base of the cut frond has to be sealed with an appropriate pruning
sealant. The palm trees from where the fronds are cut have to be sprayed with an appropriate insecticide.
This has to be repeated for three consecutive times in order to best protect the trees.
In order to control the spread of infection by the Red Palm Weevil, palm fronds to be used by fishermen
should be collected from a common site where cutting of palm fronds is controlled. In Malta, palm fronds
should only be collected from ELC premises mainly Wied Incita , while in Gozo, palm fronds should only
be collected from the Afforestation Section at an approved site after interested persons present a receipt
issued by the Fisheries Section in Gozo.
In order to manage the Red Palm Weevil infestation the Plant Health Directorate is soliciting the cooperation
of all the people involved in such activities. Stakeholders should abide to Legal Notice 42 of 2009, Plant
Quarantine Act (CAP 433) Control of the Red Palm Weevil Regulations, 2009, and respective guidelines, as
stipulated in regulation 8, and regulation 6(6) whereby pruning or any similar activity on susceptible plants,
shall be carried out in collaboration with and under the supervision of the Directorate which shall give proper
and adequate instructions for such pruning. Any such or similar activity cannot be carried out unless a
written approval for such pruning or similar activity has been obtained from the Directorate, not less than
fifteen (15) days prior to the undertaking of the actual pruning or similar activity to be undertaken.
Such an infestation can only be controlled if all involved persons play their part. For any further information
please contact the Plant Health Directorate within the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs on 22927106
or freephone 80072310.