A workable plan is urgently needed in key Akamas coastal regions following a proposed boat ‘ban’ this week, which will leave businesses struggling and could ‘close’ Latchi, according to locals.
The warning comes in the wake of a proposal by the agriculture ministry to prohibit boats and fishing from April to October, which would see Fontana Amorosa, Blue Lagoon and Manolis Bay fall under special protection.
This would not permit fishing, boats and other transport to far into the bay’s waters, including jet skis.
Dozens of businesses in the area are reliant on offering boat trips, day trips, boats and other paraphernalia for private hire and the three bays where the restrictions are being proposed are hugely popular with locals, overseas tourist and visitors from other towns. They are renowned for their crystal clear, calm and warm waters.
Earlier this week, Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said: “What has concerned the authorities is the safety of swimmers in the Akamas area.”
Kadis said the aim is the safety of swimmers in the small bays as the situation was currently unregulated.
The Greens have welcomed the decision, noting that, for several years there has been a ‘crowd’ of boats resulting in the pollution of the sea , which poses very serious risks to the sensitive environment of these unique bays of the Akamas peninsula.
However, they also noted that: “what is specified is that the purpose of the Decree is not to end the coastal tourism or activity and access to these areas by vessels, but to regulate their access and anchorage to the area, other than small inlets, in order to provide this arrangement with the possibility of using the inlets by bathers safely.”
A local businessman, operator of a water sports company(he wished to remain unnamed) which has been operating in the area for more than 40 years and offers boat hire, water sports, diving, parasailing and more, said that there needs to be a workable plan in place for all. He added that more than 16 businesses in Latchi alone offer boat trips to these areas.
“I am all for conservation and marine life, but this is not the way to do it, and there definitely needs to be control, particularly in the blue lagoon area. A swimming area should be created, but closing Blue Lagoon, will close Latchi,” he said.
In the meantime, the Neo Chorio community council said on the whole they agreed with the minister’s proposal, but disagree with the limit on boats in these areas to 3m depth, “we think this should be 2m,” they noted
The businessman agreed that the current picture, in particular at Blue Lagoon, was dangerous, as there are swimmers and boats all in the same area.
The minister described the situation as ‘chaotic’.
“Blue Lagoon is one of the biggest draws to the area and if they close it off, boats will anchor outside the bay area and swimmers will be in the open sea which is more dangerous. I hope that they find another solution and make a designated swimming area,” the businessman said.
A local resident pointed out that many people come from Ayia Napa and the other towns in Cyprus visit the Blue Lagoon every year and that this boosts the local economy, as they visit restaurants, cafes, hotels and other commendation in the area,.
“It keeps the local economy moving,” she said.
The Greens said that they expected the precise details of the decree to be determined after consultation with all those involved by July 10,and hope that it will be implemented as soon as possible.
The businessman added: “We have taken legal advice following a letter from the ministry of agriculture that gave us just ten days to put forward our suggestions.”