The agriculture ministry has proposed banning boats and fishing in key Akamas regions from April to October.
The draft decree would grant Fontana Amorosa, Blue Lagoon and Manolis Bay special protection and ban fishing, boats and other mechanised transport in the waters, such as jet skis, each year for seven months.
Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis was in Paphos on Thursday as the reports emerged.
When asked about the draft decree, he said that: “What has concerned the authorities is the safety of swimmers in the Akamas area.”
He played down the ban on boats in the area, saying that they would have to anchor or sail past the proposed protected zones in the three bays.
He noted that currently there is a chaotic situation whereby there are many people swimming right next to where boats are anchored and sailing past.
Kadis said that he wants to see this issue resolved until the long-term goal of an anchorage in the area has been established by the ministry.
The bays on the coast of Akamas – famous for clear waters and beautiful scenery – are popular destinations for both local and international tourists.
The decree could effectively wipe out some businesses in the area, especially as it would prohibit their activities during the height of the tourist season in the summer months.
The news came as a shock to water sports, tour boats and fishing boat operators in Latchi harbor.
“It would be catastrophic for us, hundreds of jobs would be lost,” a businesses owner in Latchi told the Cyprus Mail.
“It’s a total surprise, there were some rumours but we did not expect this.”
The Akamas, hailed as one of the best preserved natural areas on the island, is a divisive issue. Conservationists wish to preserve the area which has partial Natura 2000 protected status.
“This makes total sense since it must remain as close to a natural area as possible and there is important wildlife in the area – such as turtles – which are seriously threatened,” Green Party MP Charalambos Theopemptou told the Cyprus Mail about the suggested decree.