Fishing Boats: the Colours of Malta
The fishing boats of Malta are instantly recognisable by their colours: a deep marine blue, a terracotta red and a pastel yellow interspersed with streaks of white and green.
All natural colours reminiscent of the land, the sea, the sun and the green fields.
Most boats comprising the island’s fishing fleet tend to follow this informal arrangement with each individual vessel sporting its own combination of the iconic colours in varying patterns and arrangements.
The biggest concentration of fishing boats is to be found in the sizable fishing village of Marsaxlokk on the main island of Malta although other examples can be found in Birzebbuga, Marsascala, Marsamxett Harbour, St. Julians and St. Paul’s Bay on Malta and Mgarr Harbour and Marsalforn on Gozo.
The ubiquitous colours of the boats make them ideal subjects for tourist literature and their shapes, profiles, colours and details have been used for generations upon generations of tourism advertising and branding for Malta by the tourism industry.
But contrary to the expectation that such a brand-like set of markings is the result of some marketing agency’s handbook, these instantly recognisable colour schemes date back at least three centuries and must have already prevailed during the last decades of the Knights of St. John’s rule in Malta. Most probably they constituted a practical way of recognising one’s own compatriots on the high seas of the Central Mediterranean especially when competing with fishing fleets from neighbouring Sicily and Tunisia during the fishing season.