Traditional use of shore platforms: a study of the artisanal management of salinas on the Maltese Islands (Central Mediterranean)

Ritienne Gauci, John A. Schembri, Rob Inkpen

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Shore platforms and salinas in the Mediterranean region have a long-standing relationship, rooted in the traditional practice of salt making. On small islands with limited natural resources, the production of salt from seawater, through insolation and intense human endeavour, offered numerous economic benefits. Salt has been a foremost natural resource for millennia with a range of uses from preserving edible foods to cooking, cleaning, laundry, and hygiene, and for medicinal uses in dilute solutions. Within the Maltese Islands, this traditional activity was developed primarily on the soft limestone shore platforms situated along low-lying rocky coasts. Although coastal production has declined in number over the years, a few salinas have persisted in their artisanal practice and are becoming a cultural geo-heritage attraction. The aim of this article is to explore the multiple geographies of this industry on two shore platforms by examining the complicated relationships that have emerged and molded between the physical landscape and human culture. Mapping out these relations through the traditional but complex management systems at two salinas, that is, the salinas at Delimara Point (Malta) and those at Xwejni Bay (Gozo), highlights the delicate nature of these relations as well as the need to support them in order to continually reproduce the cultural micro-landscape. The resultant micro-landscape is becoming an increasingly important living expression of the cultural geo-heritage of the Maltese Islands, which requires careful understanding and management of these relations if it is to be maintained as a vibrant geo-tourist attraction.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number2
Early online date10 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


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