A new fish farming harbour being proposed in Pentakomo will pose a threat to the endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal, BirdLife Cyprus said on Tuesday.

In a press release, the environmental Ngo explained that the Pentakomo coast is home to the specific seal, which is “one of the rarest and most threatened species in the world”.

The issue is that at this stage, the development has only been screened but is set for approval, before a proposed protected area on the same coast has been designated.

“This simply contravenes all good practice for nature protection in the EU,” BirdLife said.

The press release proposed a Natura 2000 site for the area, for the protection of the Mediterranean Monk Seal, as a scientific publication identified important resting places for the species in the area.

“BirdLife Cyprus believes that the impact of this new harbour on the Mediterranean Monk Seal and the proposed protected area has not been adequately assessed, as only a preliminary screening was conducted,” which concluded there would be no significant project impact on the Monk Seal.

The Ngo called this “unacceptable, because in the absence of a comprehensive ecological assessment it cannot be guaranteed beyond all doubt that such a project will not have an impact on the Mediterranean Seal, which as a State we have an obligation to ensure for a species that is on the brink of extinction”.

Stressing the importance of the species, “and its extremely unfavourable conservation status,” the press release called on the fisheries department and the environment department not to make any decisions on the project before conducting thorough research and completing the Natura 2000 designation process for the area.

“We must ensure the protection of the endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal and its critical habitat at all costs,” the press release concluded. “To do this, the site must first be designated protected for the species.

“Only then should a full assessment on the proposed project be done, and only if it poses no threat to the species should it be approved. Not the other way round”.