The fisheries department announced on Thursday that it has filed a complaint with the Larnaca district officer after a video spread across social media showing a youth driving a tractor on a turtle nesting beach in Kiti, just a few metres away from the nests.
The Larnaca district officer, Odysseas Hadjistephanou, has also been contacted by the Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis, who “condemned the incident and requested that the necessary actions are taken for the protection of sea turtles and their nests on the beach in question, especially since we are traversing the spawning season of turtles,” the announcement added.
"Οργανωμένη παραλία Καρέτα στο Κίτι. Παρακαλώ κοινοποιήστε.
Posted by Christina Kadi on Tuesday, 20 August 2019
Hadjistephanou gave assurances that all necessary measures will be taken according to the Beach Protection Law.
The video, posted on Facebook on Tuesday and which had by Thursday received over 31,000 views, showed a tractor attempting to soften the sand for swimmers at the ‘Caretta’ beach in Kiti.
The beach, named after the Caretta caretta (loggerhead) turtle which lays its eggs there, also includes an area for swimmers with sunbeds and umbrellas, separated by the nesting area by an opaque fence.
While the swimmers’ area adjacent to the nests is not illegal, it is nevertheless forbidden to plough on the beach. According to the Facebook user who uploaded the video, instructions for smoothing over the beach with a tractor were given to a 16-year-old with no licence by the manager of the swimmers’ strip.
According to the fisheries department, sea turtles have been recognised as protected species in Cyprus since 1971 with the Fisheries Law as well as with relevant EU regulations adopted since 1990.
“As such, even though beaches in the Pervolia-Softades-Kiti area are not included in the Natura 2000 network of protected areas for sea turtles, the turtles and their eggs are protected in the area, as they are across the Republic of Cyprus,” the department clarified.
On the basis of the sea turtle protection programme carried out by local and international experts on behalf of the fisheries department, the beach in question is surveyed and nests are recorded and monitored, the announcement added.
Additionally, it added, the beach is also monitored by the Life Euroturtles research programme through the use of a drone, which is on the lookout for potential sea turtle nests.