Project MaSpi - Sustainable Management of Beach Resources in Sicily and Malta Under the Auspices of the Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Insular Coastal Dynamics (ICoD)

Project MaSpi was officially inaugurated last week in Ragusa , Sicily , as the first activity in an intensive 18-month programme addressing the sustainable management of beach resources in Sicily (Provincia di Ragusa) and Malta. Present for the inauguration were Dr Anton Micallef and Ms Michelle Cassar from the Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Insular Coastal Dynamics (ICoD) of the Foundation for International Studies at the University of Malta. Representatives of the other two project partners included D.ssa Sara Suizzo and D.ssa Cristina Dragoi from the Sicilian consortium CoPAI, as well as Dott. Francesco Frasca and Giancarlo Froriddia from the Provincia Regionale di Ragusa.

MaSpi is funded under INTERREG IIIA, an EU Programme promoting cross-border cooperation among adjoining territories. The Italia-Malta strand of this programme aims to promote the integration between the south-east coast of Sicily and Malta, in order to promote cultural, economic and social resources in the framework of sustainable development. MaSpi has a total project budget of 386,000 euros; as the Maltese partner within the project, ICoD will receive 90,000 euros in ERDF funding.

This project aims to address the sustainable management of beach resources through the application of the state-of-the-art beach management technique (BARE) developed by Dr Micallef. Assessment of beach quality will be performed for each site through a sequence of registration and evaluation, giving particular attention to five beach-related issues: safety, water quality, facilities, scenery and litter. These issues have been identified through extensive research as having high priority and preference for beach users in the Euro-Mediterranean region. A project-specific Geographic Information System (GIS) will be designed to store and manipulate the data collected and to identify specific management-related issues, thereby acting as a tool for improving beach quality.

The immediate project results will be the development of a beach management strategy and model for the regions studied, with the long-term objective of enhancing tourism in both Malta and Ragusa through the improved management of the beaches of both regions.