Following several reports on the state of the ducks introduced at Is-Salini, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), as the competent Authority in terms of Natura 2000 sites, requested tests to be carried out through the Veterinary and Plant Regulatory Division (VPRD).
The results of the requested tests were provided to the Authority on the 1st July 2020. Unfortunately, from the samples assessed, it is clear that the ducks present at Is-Salini area are infected with Avian Flu and Salmonella and hence pose a risk not only to native and migratory wildlife in the area and the environment, but also to public health and food (due to possible transmission of such diseases to domesticated poultry species, which were also released in the same area).
The Ministry is currently in consultation with the Veterinary and Plants Regulation Division in order to decide on a plan of action for their removal.
It is noted that the ducks in question are feral domesticated ducks, which are not native to the Maltese Islands. They do not occur naturally in the area and their livelihood depends on external factors and human intervention, this causing major imbalances in the natural state of the water and biodiversity of the area. Such feral domesticated ducks cause direct environmental damage by altering the habitat where they live, degrading it, and increasing the risks of nutrient enrichment and water contamination. Indeed, the ducks, their droppings and uneaten introduced food sources are leading to water contamination, leading to an increase in nutrients and eutrophication episodes (such as red tides). Such episodes are very damaging to protected wildlife in the area as they may lead to the death of fish and other wildlife, including protected species, as well as other unwanted environmental and health consequences. Besides being introduced there and the damage indicated, other ancillary non-authorised alterations were also carried out in the site (which lies in a protected area) to accommodate the domesticated ducks.
In view of these environmental issues, ERA has also issued a Stop and Compliance Order (OWK) on this matter earlier on, which was followed up through such tests.
Note: ‘Is-Salini’ was designated as a Special Area of Conservation in 2003 granting the site protection in accordance with the provisions of the Flora, Fauna and Habitats Protection Regulations (SL549.44). This designation was further updated in 2018, through GN 681 of 2018 as published on 5th June 2018. A Management Agreement is in place, with the site being managed through BirdLife Malta, with the involvement of relevant competent entities, including ERA.
2 July 2020