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CyprusEnvironment

Greens seek end to turtle watching cruises

turtle in the sea
File photo: Turtle being released (Christos Theodorides)

The Green Party on Monday pushed for an end to turtle watching cruises, after a sea turtle was recently killed by a boat touring Famagusta region.

Following complaints from the public, the party said it contacted the fisheries department who informed them that operators organising small cruises in the region include tours to areas where there are turtles.

The tours aim to allow tourists to see the protected species up close or feed them. This is despite the fact that feeding sea turtles is a punishable offence under the nature protection law as it is considered harassment of marine life according to a recent announcement by the fisheries department.

During one of those tours, a turtle was caught in the engine of a boat and died, said the Green Party, who conducted an investigation into the incident.

Citing the turtle’s death, the party called on boat cruises to stop touring in areas where sea turtles are present.

The risks of cruise ships to marine life were also highlighted in a review published in Marine Pollution Bulletin in December last year, which looked into the environmental and human health impacts of cruise tourism.

Scientists then wrote that “collisions with marine mammals and sea turtles represent a major issue” and argued that cruises should be more closely monitored and regulated to prevent or minimise all impacts.

Since 1971, sea turtles in Cyprus are protected by the fisheries law while they are also included in the Barcelona protocol concerning specially protected areas and biological diversity in the Mediterranean, which Cyprus ratified by law.

Sea turtles are considered a priority species and are also protected through the European Habitats Directive which was transposed into national legislation in 2003 by the Law on the Protection and Management of Nature and Wildlife.

According to the above-mentioned legislation, it is prohibited to kill, pursue, intentionally harass these species, as well as to capture, buy or sell and possess sea turtles or any attempt to do so, the green party said.

A person who violates the provisions of the act shall be guilty of an offence and, on conviction, shall be liable to imprisonment or a fine or both.

“We urge the public to immediately report such incidents to the relevant authorities and be an ally to the work carried out by the department of fisheries in terms of protecting the marine environment of Cyprus,” said Anthi Mouzouri coordinator of the movement’s animal action group.

In case an injured sea turtle is found, the public can contact the fisheries and marine research department

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.

 

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