University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Going Deeper Under the Waves: Advanced Marine Issues

LEVEL H - Higher Level


DEPARTMENT Centre for the Liberal Arts and Sciences

DESCRIPTION The unit will introduce students to an analysis of marine and maritime issues and activities, such underwater archaeology, maritime uses, including a synoptic history of maritime transportation tracing back to antiquity. The unit will familiarise students with modern technologies like oil exploration, and provide an analysis of the pressures that these may induce, for example threats from oil spills.

Students will be presented with an explanation of the environmental status of Malta’s marine waters. The unit will emphasise the pertinence of this issue in light of extensive exploitation of coastal zones resulting in these being polluted or put under threat from Anthropogenic impacts.

Students will be briefed about the beauty of our oceans, their rich biodiversity, and the benthic and pelagic megafauna that is present. The unit will thus also equip students with biological and other necessary knowledge whilst out at sea. The intention of this unit is also to compel the current knowledge that some may have on, for example, the threats sharks pose to humans, or on the present alien species. This unit will emphasise the need to conserve some iconic creatures like sharks and other flagship species which may at times harm fishermen’s nets and may be seen as competing with fisheries.

Legislation and policies currently adopted to protect marine sites, Natura 2000 sites and other marine protected areas will also be described along with how the management of such marine is expected to operate. This also includes the most recent EU framework legislation, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which also includes atmospheric deposition, rivers and run offs.

Overall, through this unit, students will be able to put into context marine and maritime issues within the fundamental principles of sustainable development. The Unit will also involve field visits to complement basic marine environmental issues on our shores.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will:

- Identify the biodiversity (living organisms from microbes to whales) present in our waters and also know the limitations of such waters both in terms of oceanographic phenomena and socio-economic constraints through human activities;
- Explain the obligations and legal framework of monitoring at sea as spelled out in a number of EU Directives, such as the MSFD and the WFD. Know the different local, regional and global issues which govern the sea and which may also be paralleled in other countries and seas hence permitting such sea-users to know also their legal limits when sailing such waters;
- Describe the Marine EU & other MEAs environmental legislation and Maltese officials will have the ability of implementing and enforcing such legislation at sea.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Assess and evaluate the effectiveness of marine monitoring projects and observations at sea;
- Report, in the form of an assignment, the fundamental marine issues, challenges and legislation governing our waters;
- Explain, in an assignment, the impacts of a number of human activities on the marine environment and discuss ways on how to overcome the negative consequences;
- Discuss the scientific and socio-economic context of marine issues;
- List challenges particularly facing the type of marine environment Malta has and mitigations activities including cutting edge proposals to overcome such issues.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main texts:

- State of the Environment Reports: 1998, 2002, 2005 (
- Drago A., Cordina G. et al. (2004), Building the best future for the marine sector in the Maltese Islands. ‘A Vision Towards Enhancing the Marine Sector’s Contribution to the Maltese Economy in 2020’, eFORESEE Marine Pilot Foresight Project, Malta
- IOC guide to Marine Spatial Planning:
- National Statistics Office:
- State of the Environment Report: Environmental assessment information:
- select Environmental data-Natura 2000 then select Special Areas of Conservation (for sites declared under the Habitats Directive) or Special Protection Areas (for sites declared under the Birds Directive) for the type of Natura 2000 you want to view on the map
- click on the GN 851 of 2001 (
- Important Natural Areas refer also to:
- Marine habitat types data collected from EIAs click on the MapServer in the top right hand corner-then select Environmental data-Marine and Marine Habitats when prompted to select Map content

Supplementary reading:

- Posidonia oceanica baseline survey- click on the MapServer -Environmental data-Marine– and Posidonia baseline survey when prompted to select Map content
- Results of Sea Bed Surveys around Filfla Islet (EU –ERDF Project):
- For guidelines on assessing projects and plans which significantly affect Natura 2000 sites -
- For Managing protected Natura 2000 sites:
- For guidelines on set up of Natura 2000 in the marine environment:
- Guidelines and designation framework for Marine Protected Areas (2005):
- Guidelines on Policy & Design Guidance on Fish farming:
- Malta Significant Wave Height Study, Malta Maritime Authority, December 2003.
- MEPA (1995) Marsaxlokk Bay Local Plan:
- MEPA (2006) North West Local Plan:
- Green Paper on a Future Maritime Policy for the European Union:
- MEPA (2006) Central Malta Local Plan:
- MEPA (2006) North Harbour Local Plan:
- MEPA (2003) Grand Harbour Local Plan:
- MEPA (2006) South Malta Local Plan:
- Coastal Strategy Topic Paper and other review topic papers of the Structure Plan:
- ICZM on MEPA’s webpage:
& Implementing ICZM in Malta:;
- Sustainable development:
- A Sustainable Development Strategy for the Maltese Islands 2006-2016 (NCSD report

Additional Reading pack compiled by lecturers.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Fieldwork

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Liam Butler
Alan Deidun
Richard Gabriele
Timothy Gambin
Adam Gauci
Carmen Mifsud

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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