Andreas Demetropoulos, the former director of the fisheries department and the head of the Cyprus Wildlife Society, died on Saturday at the age of 84.

Demetropoulos is well known for this work on turtle conservation as director of the fisheries department for 31 years from 1967 to 1998. He had worked in the public service from 1964.

In 1984, he became president of the newly-launched Cyprus Wildlife Society, which he was headed until today.

Demetropoulos is credited with being the driver of a law created in 1971 relating to the protection of sea turtles in Cyprus, which is still adhered to today.

He was born in Nicosia in 1938 and he studied Marine Biology and Oceanography at the University College of North Wales, Bangor. Upon his return to Cyprus, in 1964 he was employed by the government, in the context of the creation of the department of fisheries and marine research, of which he was the director until his retirement in 1998.

From the early 1960s until the end of his life, he was involved in the formulation and implementation of legislation for the sustainable development and management of fisheries and aquaculture. At the same time, he pioneered the protection of the marine environment and the conservation of wildlife in Cyprus, as well as the promotion and development of scientific research in the marine areas and the coastal zones of the island.

Together with Myroula Hadjichristofou, in 1984 they founded the Cyprus Wildlife Society and in 1989 he was a founding member of the Cyprus Federation of Environmental Organisations. He was for decades a representative and scientific partner, on a voluntary basis, of the federation, in the context of its participation in several scientific, technical and advisory committees on the environment.

Between 1976 and 1977, together with Hadjichristoforou, they began to conduct the first research concerning sea turtle nests in Cyprus. In 1978, under the guidance of Andreas Demetropoulos, the fisheries department began to implement the sea turtle conservation project, on the beaches of Lara and Toxeftra in the Akamas Peninsula, with the aim of protecting sea turtles, their eggs, and hatchlings from natural enemies (predators / foxes) and human activities.

Since then, the Lara-Toxeftra area has been protected by all governments and in 2013 the area was classed as a special protection area of Mediterranean importance.

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Andreas Demetropoulos on a turtle beach

Demetropoulos took part in various international fora, first as the representative of the fisheries department, and after his retirement as the representative for the Cyprus Wildlife Society.

He was also a specialist for the United Nations Environment Programme / Mediterranean Action Plan, Regional Activity Centre / Specially Protected Areas.

In his career, Demetropoulos also served as a consultant on the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the EU Commission Environment Directorate, and other international bodies for the protection of wildlife and the environment.

Demetropoulos was also listed in the ‘Global 500 Roll of Honour’ in 1988 for his research in conserving sea turtles.

He has published dozens of articles, studies, and books on fishery development and the marine environment.

Those who knew him characterised him as generous, kind, and dedicated in giving back to nature and the environment.

The Cyprus Federation of Environmental Organisations expressed their condolences and said that he would always be remembered.

“For us, he was a great teacher, excellent partner, and good friend, one of us,” they said.

The fisheries department in an announcement on Sunday described Demetropoulos as ” a truly outstanding scientist and man” who leaves behind “memorable work, which is a legacy for future generations”.

“Always committed to science, research, he worked with dedication and passion, exploring the marine life of Cyprus, promoting fisheries and aquaculture and implementing management measures to ensure the sustainability of fish stocks, rational management and ecosystem approach, pioneering and progressive principles and concepts,” it said.