By Bejay Browne
A DEFUNCT boat will be sunk off the coast of Paphos this month to create the town’s first artificial reef.
The new tourist attraction will be placed in Moulia at a depth of 30 metres off the coast of Yeroskipou municipal beach.
The head of the Paphos regional board of tourism, Nassos Hadjigeorgiou, told the Sunday Mail that the event will take place on Sunday, June 22, between 11am and 1pm.
“We are organising a programme now, which will include speeches from officials such as the minister of agriculture and other marine activities. The boat will be sunk sometime between 12.30 to 1pm.” He added that the public is invited to attend.
Officials hope the boat will prove as popular among divers as the Zenobia wreck off the coast of Larnaca.
The tourism board chief noted that the boat has been thoroughly cleaned to rid it of any pollutants and the procedure will be carried out by a company of specialists, under European standards and directives.
“In addition, the department of fisheries is preparing technical blocks to be placed on the seabed which will serve as a place to cultivate marine life,” he said.
According to Hadjigeorgiou, the initiative is part of a European programme implemented by the local tourism board and the fisheries department, with the financial support of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) in association with the Cyprus divers association.
He said: “Our aim is to develop diving tourism in the area and also to upgrade the tourist experience in Paphos.”
The boat, measuring around 25 metres in length, cost around €30,000 and is an old fishing vessel bought from the Cyprus Ports Authority.
“We are considering a similar initiative at an area in Polis which has been suggested by the fisheries department to turn Paphos into a popular diving destination in the Mediterranean,” he said. “It will also add to the enrichment of marine life and the underwater environment.”