The Malta National Aquarium
The concept for a national aquarium has been on the cards for many years. Two factors contributed to the lengthy time taken for the project to take off: the selection of an appropriate site and the identification of a sustainable operating model that would achieve the project objectives without depending on government financial subsidies.
The first attempt to build a public aquarium commenced in 1993, when the old national pool in the South of the island (Marsascala) became redundant. The idea was to convert the old national pool into an aquarium. However it became evident that the location of Marsascala was too remote for tour operators and that another location should be identified. The Ministry of Tourism had then identified the site at Qawra Point as a possible location for this project, noting that the area constituted a tourism zone in decline which required investment in general. Despite the process for this project started in 1993, culminating in an International Call for Offers in 1996, the process was discontinued following the realisation that the project was not feasible if it were to be funded solely from private sources.
Government considered the option of constructing and operating the aquarium through a public entity. This option was likewise considered as not sustainable. Eventually it was decided to opt for a Public Private Partnership. The Malta Tourism Authority was entrusted to carry forward this project on behalf of the Government of Malta. The MTA developed the project concept, applied and obtained the ERDF funding for the project, managed, in conjunction with the Department of Contracts, the tendering process which led to the selection of the private partner.
Cost of project
The total estimated cost of the entire project is of €15.6 million of which €8.85 million (including VAT) are being funded through the European Regional Development Fund with the rest of the funds coming from the private investors (Marine Aquatic Ltd). The main partners of Marine Aquatic Ltd are Ebcon, Elbros and Marinescape.
Objectives of the Project:
The objectives of the development are:
- to provide an additional motivation for tourists to visit Malta and to improve the marketability of the Qawra / St Paul’s Bay / Bugibba tourism zone;
- increase the amount of public amenity space, through the establishment of a public garden, as an extension of the existing promenade;
- improvement public access to the foreshore;
- promotion natural features of the coastal environment;
- engage the public on the need to care for and protect the environment, particularly the marine environment;
- rehabilitation of the cultural heritage features present on site.
The project will be spread over approximately 20,000 square meters and will comprise a public aquarium, a public garden at promenade level, a multi storey car park, facilities for local dive schools, catering facilities including a reef club, a merchandise outlet and a tourist information kiosk.
The public aquarium will have more than 25 display tanks with, amongst others, Mediterranean fish, commonly found in Maltese waters together with replicas of historical artefacts that one can find in the seas around us.
The main tank of the aquarium will house species from the Indian Ocean, including two shark species. The main tank will be approximately 12 meters in diameter. Visitors will be able to go through a water tunnel thereby experiencing the fish at a much closer range.
All tanks will be expertly themed to replicate the underwater environment. Additional features of the public aquarium include a class room facility, interpretation, touch pools, a temporary exhibition space, veterinary and quarantine facilities, etc.
The garden will provide additional recreation facilities for pedestrians who use the popular Qawra promenade. The car park will have a capacity of over 140 cars.
Works on site started in October 2011. It is planned that the project will be completed by the 1st / 2nd quarter 2013 although components of the project may be completed and in operation before this date.
To download the project's press pack click the links hereunder:
Press Pack 1
Press Pack 2