We were thrilled to hear that the Cyprus government has announced that it will create five new marine parks starting in 2013!! The reason behind this action is to encourage the growth and protection of the island’s rich marine life. We believe this is a step towards the right direction and we would love to be part of it!
According to the announcement, four large fishing vessels and a number a reef poles will be scuttled into the Cypriot Mediterranean throughout the first six months of 2013, as part of a €1.5m project that will create five new marine parks, encouraging the growth and protection of marine life around Cyprus. The scuttling stages of the project will be completed by June 2013 and the sites are scheduled to be open to recreational divers in July 2013.
Fishing in the marine parks, which will be situated in the waters surrounding Paphos, Limassol, Ayia Napa, Protaras and Latchi, will be prohibited at any time creating a total protected area of 12 km-squared. Already home to more than 200 acknowledged dive sites, Cyprus offers one of the longest diving seasons in the Mediterranean with year-round sunshine, warm sea temperatures ranging from 27 to 16 ºC and excellent visibility thanks to the absence of plankton. Over 160,000 international divers visit the island every year. Divers in Cyprus are also able to explore spectacular sea caves and tunnels, a broad range of marine life and discover a number of wrecks – including the infamous MS Zenobia, a Swedish built ferry launched in 1979 that capsized and sank off the coast of Larnaca, Cyprus, in June 1980 on her maiden voyage and voted one of the word’s top wreck dive sites in the world.
The five new sites would increase Cyprus’ wreck offering to a total of 16! Beautiful sea turtles can also be spotted, including Green and Loggerhead turtles, thanks to a turtle conservation project that has increased their numbers around the island considerably, while the remains of ancient amphora and stone anchors make historic diving a veritable adventure.
The announcement mentions that the project is part of the Cyprus Dive Centre Association’s (CDCA) long-standing commitment to protecting the reefs and wrecks in Cyprus that are part of a rich underwater heritage. As well as the banning of fishing in any of the marine parks, the CDCA is lobbying to further restrict fishing around the whole island, following the government legislation in early 2012 which restricts the amount that can be fished and the times that people can fish. The marine parks will be strictly regulated by the Department of Fisheries who are also committed to the project.
We just think that it is magnificent that so many people “heart” diving as much as we do! 🙂 – xoxo