New regulations declaring Il-Ponta tal-Qawra as a new nature reserve were published on Tuesday, to protect this site’s biodiversity in a coastal area popular for walking and swimming.

Through these regulations, the importance of this site’s biodiversity is being recognised. The legal framework provides the necessary protection required to preserve it for future generations.

Il-Ponta tal-Qawra, also known as Qawra Point, is a small peninsula off Qawra, in St Paul’s Bay. It is an area of ecological importance due to its coastal communities and migratory species. Its habitats include maritime plant and animal species that are native or endemic to the Maltese Islands. The area is also a major route for various waterbirds and waders, particularly due to its vicinity to protected wetlands and other important bird staging posts, including Is-Simar, Is-Salini, l-Għadira s-Safra and the Għallis Rocks, as well as the St Paul’s Islands Nature Reserve, further north. Besides its natural significance, the site also holds interesting cultural heritage features, including concentric rings carved in the rock.

The new regulations under the Environment Protection Act (Cap. 549) declare this site as a Nature Reserve, providing for the conservation of biodiversity, landscape and related natural features, while regulating and minimising any adverse impacts so that its unique natural features are duly protected and enriched. In this regard, the regulations prohibit commercial activities without permits, physical modifications to the site as well as exploitation of its wildlife, such as cutting, picking, trapping, hunting and sale of flora and fauna. As in all other nature reserves, dumping of chemical substances or waste, igniting open fires, causing excessive noise or light and releasing non-native alien species in this area is disallowed as well.

The Qawra Point peninsula, almost completely encircled by the sea, is in an area that is very popular for leisure walking and bathing. In this regard, the nature reserve will remain open to the public, provided that it is not accessed with motor vehicles. Notwithstanding such restrictions, selected activities may be allowed subject to a permit from the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA), following an appropriate assessment of potential impacts and applicable mitigation measures.

The new regulations will be implemented by the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA), with the support of the Police Force. Anyone caught infringing these new regulations will be liable to severe penalties, including fines starting from €750 or imprisonment for up to two years, depending on the type of contravention.

20 September 2022