The insatiable demand for cruise liner berthing spaces as a result of the spectacular increase in cruise-mediated tourism has prompted Maltese authorities to identify additional sites to around the Maltese Islands accommodate such a development, including the Grand Harbour in Malta and Mgarr Harbour in Gozo. The study gives a broad- brush overview of the benthic infralittoral biocoenoses and assemblages and attempts to anticipate the significance of cruise terminal development-related impacts on the same habitats and communities. Ecological sampling techniques included scraping for fouling assemblages, coring for infaunal communities and semi- quantitative visual census for benthic and pelagic communities. A number of residual impacts are identified within the study, which also forwards a number of mitigation measures for attenuating deleterious human impacts on marine benthic communities. The two coastal sites assessed are contiguous to harbours, although presenting profoundly different abiotic conditions, benthic biotic communities and conservation importance. Putative impacts were classified on the basis of their significance and include the heightened mobilization of fine particles within the water column with a resultant decrease in water transparency, in an alteration of sediment budgets and in hydrodynamic regimes, in submarine noise generation (at least during the construction phase) and in smothering of benthic communities through land reclamation.
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