National Aquarium to open in summer
Malta’s first national aquarium is expected to open this summer as works on the nearly €16 million project are progressing well.
The aquarium, which was deemed commercially impossible until a few years ago, was made possible through EU funds granted to private developers by the Malta Tourism Authority.
During a visit to the works yesterday, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said EU funds were proving to be essential so that Malta could make a quality leap forward and offer an upmarket tourist product.
He said the project will serve as an added attraction to Maltese families, as apart from 26 fish tanks it will include a large public area with recreational facilities.
The Malta National Aquarium is a public-private partnership between the MTA and consortium Mariner Aquatic Limited.
Work, on a large area on the Qawra promenade next to the Ta’ Fra Ben Tower, has been going on for the past two years and marine experts have been brought to Malta to advise on which types of fish to put in the tanks – the largest with a 12-metre diameter.
The management plans to have 175 different species, with a special area dedicated to Mediterranean species, while sharks will be brought from the Indian Ocean.
Dr Gonzi said the Government was proud to be able to back such projects, which would continue to put Malta on the Mediterranean tourism map.
He said it will enhance the Qawra area, which is already popular with tourists. In the peak season, the aquarium is expected to employ 100 people.
The project is spread over 20,000 square metres and will include an aquarium with 26 tanks, a public garden with a children’s play area, a multi-storey car park, a diving institute, a reef club and catering facilities.
The main tank will house aquatic species from the Indian Ocean, including two shark species. Visitors will be able to go through a water tunnel to see the fish at close range.
Additional features include a classroom, touch pools, exhibition space, veterinary and quarantine facilities.
The entrance will be housed in an iconic curved shell structure shaped as a starfish.
Out of a €15.6 million investment, €8.85 million is being funded through the European Regional Development Fund.