By Bejay Browne
PAPHOS authorities will impose stiff new measures including hefty fines to enforce the law and ensure local waters remain clean and unpolluted following a raft of complaints made by swimmers and sea users last summer.
The seaside town experienced pockets the worst ever pollution in its seas last year, mostly consisting of human effluence, said Andreas Chrysanthou, who heads the municipalities beaches committee.
He added that the authorities had decided to take all precautions and measures to ensure that similar problems were not encountered during the coming summer season.
The matter was discussed at a meeting held at Paphos town hall between the relevant authorities including members of the winter swimmers association, the marine department, the port authority and the environmental committee.
Chrysanthou said: “Our aim is to eliminate any factors which may be contributing to the problems in the sea off Paphos.”
In particular, operators of small cruise ships are being targeted.
Two main steps were discussed at the meeting; firstly the ports authority will purchase a specialised moveable pump to serve all ships using the port to enable them to properly empty their septic tanks.
The waste will be pumped into a large container which will then be transferred into the main sewerage network. SABA (the Paphos sewerage authority will charge for this facility- this fee will in turn be passed on to the cruise line owners.)
The second measure will see cooperation between the relevant authorities to enforce the law concerning the correct sewerage pumps which are supposed to be fitted to all of the vessels.
Officials say that only half of the vessels have the correct pumps fitted. They say that prior to 2004, older cruise ships were fitted with a pipe outlet which empties the waste by ‘gravity’ and many believe they are emptying this into the sea. The marine department will inspect all of the pipes and tanks and permanently seal any illegalities which are still in use.
Chrysanthou said that the port authorities may also impose fines ranging from €100-€2,000 for non-compliance. In addition, if the ships do not follow the laws, fail to install the correct pumps, or don’t seal up outdated ones, their licences may not be renewed.
He added: “The cruise lines will pay a fee for emptying no matter what, so it won’t make any sense if they try to empty waste into the sea and may also receive a fine.”
A meeting is due to take place in the next two weeks between the cruise operators, the fisheries department and all of the other relevant authorities to discuss the new measures.
He noted: “Measures will be tough and they need to be. There will be no excuses now and I believe we will achieve our goal this time.”