Minister of State for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster said on Wednesday that tackling illegal bird trapping was one of the British bases’ top priorities.
Lancaster was at the House of Commons to answer questions submitted in writing by a number of MPs on illegal bird trapping within the British bases territory in Cyprus.
Responding to a question of MP Michelle Donelan, Lancaster said that the bases’ police are using all legal means to target people involved in illegal bird trapping. Last year, he said, the bases prosecuted 78 people, while it carried out 39 major net removal operations which will be continued with the use of drones.
He added that the bases’ court in Dekelia issues fines to 14 poachers and suspended prison sentences to six of them.
On the questions from MPs Deidre Brock and Madeleine Moon, Lancaster said that measures are being taken to reduce the number of acacia bushes used by poachers to set their nets, either by cutting them down or removing irrigation pipes.
Last month the British bases pledged to detect, deter and disrupt the activity of illegal trappers and revealed new drone technology to help fight crime, including illegal bird trapping.
This year alone, the British bases have destroyed kilometres of irrigation pipes used to water acacia bushes planted with the sole purpose of trapping birds.