By Athena Karsera
Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis yesterday welcomed the deliberate sinking of a vessel to create an artificial reef off Protaras as a step towards promoting marine biodiversity and creating opportunities for sustainable development.
“Without a doubt, protected sea areas, including artificial reefs, provide the opportunity to promote activities with a developmental potential, such as marine ecotourism which can include the development of diving tourism,” the minister said. He was speaking at the deployment of the Nemesis III in the Vrysoudia area of Protaras yesterday.
He said although the protected areas could not be fished, the role they played in encouraging the presence of marine life in the wider region could create additional income for fishermen.
This could also develop fishing tourism and contribute to education and awareness on issues connected to the protection of the seas.
Nemesis III is the first of four vessels that will be used to create artificial reefs off the coast of Paralimni, Ayia, Limassol and Paphos.
All the boats will have been carefully cleaned and prepared in line with EU anti-pollution legislation before being sunk.
The Nemesis III was sunk to a depth of 23 metres yesterday with the three other boats expected to follow over the coming year. An artificial reef using different materials will also be created next year, Kouyialis said.
“Something that has been determined not only by fishermen but also by important scientific researchers is that the biodiversity of the seas around the world is falling at an alarming rate and that marine ecosystems are under a variety of threats mainly pollution, over-fishing, the importing of exotic species, and climate change,” the minister added.
Kouyialis said that Cyprus’ first artificial reef, created off Amathunda in 2009, had shown positive results and by now looked very much like a natural reef after attracting various forms of marine life.
The vessel was deployed by the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research through a project co-funded by the EU through its European Fisheries Fund 2007-2013.