As an island which wholly depends on sea transport for its global connectivity, the maritime industry has historically been one of Malta’s economic pillars. Therefore, it remains imperative that we preserve and enhance our maritime links with the rest of the world, as well as bolster our existing maritime skills, which are an essential element of our island’s economic and social wellbeing.
Malta Maritime Pilots form an integral part of the sector’s hierarchy, a profession which is inherent to the efficiency, safety and the economic aspect of the ports it serves. To this end the Malta Maritime Pilots are hosting The Southern European Pilots Meeting 2019, a two-day event with the main objective of fostering and promoting continuous professional development within the profession.
On the 29th April, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg opened the Southern European Pilots Meeting, wherein he expressed his pleasure at having the opportunity to address a group of professionals from within the maritime sector, a sector which he reiterated, is a pillar of our economy and yields many landmark results.
The Minister also expressed his appreciation for pilotage services, which are among the most valuable services provided in the Maltese ports, and praised the Malta Maritime Pilots for their consistent and professional service which is in line with Transport Malta’s vision for a strong and capable maritime sector.
“The Government appreciates the importance of the work carried out by the pilots, who with their guidance, dedication and experience make it possible for ships and vessels over 500 gross tons, as well as superyachts that require maintenance, to enter and manoeuvre in our national ports. We are immensely satisfied by the positive track record of the Malta Maritime Pilots, a cooperative of 16 maritime pilots, which employs 65 people. With more than 9,000 ventures in 2018 alone, and more than 88,000 in the last 10 years, we have seen a 27% increase in services from 2012 to 2017,” continued Minister Borg.
The Minister also talked about the importance of investment within the sector, and praised the Malta Maritime Pilots for their contribution in this regard, with an investment of € 1 million towards their eighth pilot boat, Juliet I. Minister Borg also spoke about the dangers that pilots have to endure on a regular basis, and expressed his appreciation that despite these dangers, these pilots contribute greatly to our economy.
“Levels of service, security and efficiency are essential, especially if we need to sustain our competitiveness in the sector. Malta currently has the largest shipping registry in Europe and the sixth largest in the world, with over 78 million gross tons, accounting for more than 3,000 merchant ship flying the Maltese flag, a figure that has doubled over the past five years, together with a recorded increase in the superyachts sector, with more than 750 superyachts registered in our country. This does not include ships that visit our ports for services, maintenance and tourism purposes, as well as other assets such as at the Malta Freeport Terminal, which is one of the leading Transhipment Hubs in the Mediterranean, not to mention the growth registered in the bunkering sector,” said Dr Borg.
Minister Borg talked about the determination of the Government to continue working for more achievements and more growth, within a spirit of proactivity. He referred to the name of the conference, ‘Proactive Pilotage through Continuous Professional Development’, and said that both proactivity and professional development fit perfectly with the Government’s vision for the transport sector, which looks to sustain the relevance and leadership in such a vast sector.
Minister Borg also emphasised the importance of training and education within the sector. He further expressed his satisfaction that the Malta Maritime Pilots are also investing in the maritime training sector and referred to last year’s launch of the Maritime MT training centre, with an investment of € 3 million, a vision to develop state of the art facilities with the latest simulators for the operation of vessels.
“I look forward to see the finalisation of this project, because I believe that this will certainly contribute in achieving the next objective, for our country to become a destination for holistic maritime training. It is ultimately the Government’s vision to continue to support and propel the industry forward, through a number of investments that support it. Our country can boast of incredible natural harbours and an ancient maritime tradition which has prevailed over the years. Therefore, it would be lacking if we do not invest in our ports as well and to this end we are currently working on a regeneration plan for the Grand Harbour, with a view to maximise space, while improving our facilities, a project which is further complemented by several other investments in maritime infrastructure,” said Minister Borg.
The Minister talked about people with the right capabilities who are already contributing to the sector and the Government’s wish to see more recruits within the industry. Here he referred to the new national taskforce, launched last week, aimed at providing women with more opportunities within the maritime sector. “We must ensure that we utilise all the skills within our talent pool, to enable us to achieve more growth and success; success which leads to a stronger economy and more job creation,” concluded the Minister, while he augured a fruitful and productive discussion to the participants.