The first of four boats to be used to create artificial reefs off the Cyprus coast is due to be sunk on Friday, December 20.
The Cyprus Dive Centre Association (CDCA) said the Nemesis III has been cleaned up according to the UN Environment Programme Mediterranean Action Plan relevant guidelines, as part of the establishment of marine protected area with artificial reefs in Protaras.
The vessel is being deployed by the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, CDCA said.
The vessel will be sunk “as part of the establishment of marine protected area with artificial reefs in Paralimni (Protaras), Cyprus. Artificial Reefs (AR) are constructions that have the same characteristics as natural reefs and act as areas for reproduction, growth, feeding and refuge for marine organisms. The materials used for AR vary from marine cement, steel, limestone to clay. Once appropriate shapes, sizes and design are selected, the different modules, including vessels, are deployed on the seabed in accordance to specific special planning”.
The sinking will take place at 11am, the CDCA said, adding that the AR project was co-funded by the EU through its European Fisheries Fund 2007-2013: Investing in sustainable fisheries, with the support of Cyprus Tourist Organisation (CTO) and CDCA.
Meetings between all the involved parties throughout 2012 led to the CDCA purchasing four disused shipping and live-a-board vessels using its own funds as well as contributions from municipalities and the CTO and donating them to the Ministry of Agriculture—under which’s jurisdiction the Fisheries Department falls.
The process put the Ministry in a position to use EU funding to properly clean and sink the vessels amongst other necessary procedures in creating the artificial reefs–two in Limassol and one each in Paphos and Protaras. Reef poles and other suitable materials will also be used to create the fifth reef in Ayia Napa.
Thousands of holidaymakers and residents of Cyprus enjoying scuba diving at a wide variety of sites around the island and dives to wrecks are often the most popular. The Zenobia wreck off the coast of Larnaca is also considered to be one of the world’s best.
Wrecks have the added advantage of quickly turning into artificial reefs which attract a wide variety of marine life, particularly if fishing is outlawed at the sites which will be the case for the new reefs.