Visitors to turtle nesting beaches in Akamas should comply with rules to ensure the protection of endangered sea turtles, the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research said on Thursday.
In a post on Facebook, the department urged the public visiting the protected area of Lara-Toxeftra to comply with existing laws and regulations and to demonstrate the appropriate environmental behaviour.
It was emphasised that from June 1 until September 30 it is prohibited to place umbrellas, beds, tents and caravans in the Lara-Toxeftra beach and visitors are not allowed to remain on the beach overnight, starting an hour before sunset. Moreover, fishing of any kind is prohibited except by fishing rod from the shore.
In addition, the following activities are prohibited all year round: the driving of any vehicle on beaches, gathering of crabs from the beaches which are protected throughout Cyprus, the lighting of fires or barbecues as well as the dumping of rubbish.
The Department also noted that boats are banned from the area from May 1 until October 31 with the exception of professionals with a licence for small scale fishing in May and October.
It was added that in cases of non-compliance with the above, the Fisheries Department is authorised to issue out of court fines up to €8,543.
“Those who visit the area of Lara- Toxeftra, as well as the other beaches on which sea turtles nest, such as the beaches in the Polis-Yialia area of the Natura 2000 network, are urged to follow the existing paths and steps so as not to destroy the vegetation in the dunes,” it said.
In addition, those who dig in the sand are requested to level the place before leaving the beach, to avoid traps for the newly hatched turtles who set off for their long trip to the open sea, it added.
Sea turtles and their eggs in Cyprus have been protected since 1971 under the fishing law (CH. 135) and regulations 1990 (Reg. No. 273/90).
The protection of their environment in the area of Lara -Toxeftra is covered by regulations enacted in 1989 under the same law.
Cyprus is an important nesting place for the green turtle (Chelonia Mydas) and loggerhead turtle (Caretta Caretta).
The department notes that in the Mediterranean region, green turtles nest almost exclusively in Cyprus and Turkey. The caretta also nests in Greece and in other Mediterranean countries in smaller numbers.
The Department of Fisheries has been implementing a programme to protect sea turtles in Cyprus since 1978.
This programme is recognised at European and international level as one of the most successful biodiversity protection programmes and was recently featured in the February 2019 issue of the Natura 2000 newsletter of the European Union.
“The presence of such priority species such as the two sea turtles, caretta caretta and chelonia mydas is also proof of the good ecological status of our marine environment,” the department concluded.