Over the objections of the auditor-general and environmental groups, it was reported on Monday that the government is going ahead with the tenders’ process for the construction of fish farms in the area of Pentakomo.

The €34 million project is being run by the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research.

Both the auditor-general as well as environmental groups have demanded the carrying out of a full environmental impact assessment study before the projects get the green light. They say anything short of that is not good enough, as the area in question is home to marine habitats and sea caves used by the Mediterranean monk seal, an endangered species.

Marina Argyrou, director of the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research, told the StockWatch news outlet that they have already sent their views to the auditor-general, addressing his observations.

She also dismissed the concerns voiced that the planned facilities will have an adverse impact on the area or the Mediterranean monk seal.

The project is to be funded by the Recovery and Resilience Facility. It will include the construction of breakwaters, dredging of the docking area for boats, an access road to the facility and roads inside the compound, as well as buildings, warehouses, offices and other premises.

Under the plans for the facility, the planned harbour will be able to serve at least 35 boats engaging in aquaculture.

Four bids have been submitted for the construction contract: consortium of Kepa Attikis ΑTE CG Kokias Ltd for €33.9 million; consortium of Araco Construction CY Ltd for €34.5 million; consortium of J/V Construction Company Christopher D Construction SA Iacovou Construction for €37.8 million; and Archimedes-Medcon JV for 43.6 million.

The call for tender for the aquaculture facility was issued in March 2024. However, planning for the project dates back to 2014.

In April of this year, the auditor-general’s office released a report calling for a new study on siting the fish farms, after questions were raised about the suitability of the proposed facility, to be situated close to a ‘Site of Community Importance’.

The Audit Office’s key finding is that the Department of the Environment and the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research had not produced an adequate scientific analysis regarding the potential environmental impacts of the fishing farm on sea caves used by the Mediterranean monk seal.