Feeding sea turtles is considered harassment of marine life which is punishable by law, the fisheries and environment departments of the agriculture ministry said on Thursday, citing relevant complaints.

In their announcement, the relevant departments said they received several complaints concerning harassment of sea turtles in coastal tourist areas.

The intentional harassment of fauna species of community interest is prohibited under nature protection laws, the competent authorities warned.

Harassment includes offering food to entice sea turtles to take pictures or to swim with them, they added.

Anyone who violates the relevant provisions is liable to imprisonment or a fine, or both sentences combined.

The departments also reminded the public of the numbers they can contact in case an injured turtle is found.

During office hours, people can contact the department of fisheries and marine research at the landline numbers, while outside business hours, mobile numbers are provided.

To contact Nicosia people can call on 22 807 853, Larnaca 24 304 294, 24 422 888 or 99 48 96 45, Famagusta 23 834 172 and 99 48 96 43, Limassol 25 306 800, 25 306 804 or 99 48 96 51 and Paphos 26 821 680 or 99 48 96 42.