The fisheries department on Thursday said the sea turtle nesting season is starting soon and called on people to observe all measures in areas where they lay their eggs.
The nesting season of sea turtles in Cyprus is from mid-May until the end of September.
Two species of sea turtles breed on the beaches of Cyprus, the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), the fisheries department said. In the Mediterranean, Green Turtles breed almost exclusively in Cyprus and Turkey. Loggerheads lay their eggs also in Greece and in smaller numbers in other Mediterranean countries, it added.
“In recent years there has been a general increase in the nesting of sea turtles and especially the Caretta caretta,” the fisheries department said. “It should be noted, however, that this increase is a result of the protection measures introduced 20 to 25 years ago and which remain in force.”
It added that sea turtles and their eggs are protected by law since 1971 and the protection of their habitat in the Lara-Toxeftra in the Akamas peninsula area since 1989.
People visiting the protected Lara – Toxeftra area are urged to comply with the laws and regulations “and to demonstrate the appropriate environmental behaviour, for the protection of sea turtles.”
The fisheries department recalls that within Lara – Toxeftra, from June 1 to September 30 people are not allowed to install umbrellas, sunbeds, tents, caravans or stay on the beach and the coastal area at night, starting one hour before sunset.
Most types of fishing are banned, expect from the shore with a rod.
It is also pointed out that using or mooring a boat in the area is prohibited from May 1 until October 31. Holders of professional small-scale coastal fishing licences are exempt from this ban.
It is also recalled that year-round, driving any vehicle on the beaches is banned as is collecting crabs from the beach which are a protected species throughout Cyprus, the fisheries department said. Lighting fires or dumping rubbish is also banned.
People found to violate these measures are subject to fines up to €8,543.
People visiting the Lara – Toxeftra area but also other beaches where sea turtles nest, such as the beaches in the area of Polis-Gialia that are within the Natura 2000 network, are urged to follow the existing walking paths and steps so as not to destroy the vegetation in the sand.
Those who dig in the sand are asked to level the area before leaving the beach, to avoid creating any traps for the baby turtles that start their long journey on the high seas right after hatching.
“Only one to two in a thousand of the hatched turtles will survive to return to the beach where they were born to breed and therefore, their strict protection is imperative to ensure the presence of this unique and iconic species our island hosts,” the fisheries department said.
It added that the presence of such priority species as the Caretta caretta and Chelonia mydas is a proof of the good ecological condition of Cyprus’ marine environment and is very important for people to cooperate with the fisheries department for its protection.