By Evie Andreou
An old war ship Kyrenia, donated by the government, will form the new artificial reef in Ayia Napa, the town’s mayor Yiannis Karousos told the Cyprus News Agency on Tuesday.
The boat, which will be scuttled on Saturday morning off the coast of Ayia Napa in Pernera, was donated to the municipality by the defence ministry. The project is co-funded from the fisheries budget by the EU and the Cyprus government.
“It is a very important project and a long-term demand by the municipality. The creation of an artificial reef in Ayia Napa area will contribute to the recovery and protection of marine biodiversity, the upgrading of the ecosystem and the enrichment of the area’s tourism product,” Karousos said.
He added that the creation of the reef would be an important reference point in attracting the interest of visitors.
The boat will be the second artificial reef of the area, as another vessel, Nemesis III was sunk in Protaras at 23 metres in 2013.
“The Ayia Napa and Paralimni municipalities will have as of this summer season two artificial reefs where divers will be able to visit… after the scuttling of the vessel, the reef will be enriched to create sea life and at the same time preserved and protected,” Karousos said.
The Department of Fisheries and Marine Research said in an announcement that the vessel was cleaned and prepared for scuttling according to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution.
Artificial reefs, it said are “deliberate constructions placed on the seabed, which aim to mimic the properties of a natural reef, which acts as shelter, area of feeding, reproduction, growth and increase in size and number of the population of embryonic marine organisms”.
The Kyrenia, will be the fifth vessel to be scuttled so far, as part of the effort to upgrade the island’s diving tourism.
Other than the Nemesis III in Protaras, the Costandis and Lady Thetis were sunk in Limassol Dasoudi at 25 meters and 21-23 meters respectively; and the Laboe in Paphos at approximately the same depth. The vessels were purchased with funding from the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO).
Cyprus’ most famous ship wreck, Zenobia, a Swedish cargo vessel sunk in Larnaca in 1980, is one of the top five most popular diving attractions worldwide.
According to unofficial estimates, the number of diving tourists ranges from 35,000 to 50,000 annually.
The scuttling of the Kyrenia, will take place at 11am on Saturday in the presence of Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides and Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis. The event is open to the public. On Saturday at 10.30am, boats will transfer those interested from the Ayia Napa harbour to the area where it will happen.