The development has only been ‘screened’ (no full assessment) and is set for approval, before a proposed protected area on the same coast has been designated as such! This simply contravenes all good practice for nature protection in the EU.
A Natura 2000 site is proposed for the Pentakomo coast area for the protection of the Mediterranean Monk Seal. A scientific publication identified important resting places for the species in the area. BirdLife Cyprus believes that the impact of this new harbour on the Mediterranean Monk Seal and the proposed protected area has not been adequately assessed, as only a preliminary screening was conducted. This screening concluded there would be no significant project impact on the Monk Seal. This is unacceptable because in the absence of a comprehensive ecological assessment it cannot be guaranteed beyond all doubt that such a project will not have an impact on the Mediterranean Seal, which as a State we have an obligation to ensure for a species that is on the brink of extinction.
Given the importance of the species and its extremely unfavourable conservation status, we call on the relevant departments, the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research and the Department of the Environment, to:
- Complete the Natura 2000 designation process, without taking this project into account, to avoid creating a fait accompli before the area is designated as protected.
- Conduct a thorough study on project location, considering all possible alternatives, with a focus on protecting the Mediterranean Monk Seal. This study should be subjected to a full Appropriate Assessment.
- Not make any decision before these steps are taken.
We must ensure the protection of the endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal and its critical habitat at all costs. To do this, the site must first be designated protected for the species. Only then should a full assessment on the proposed project be done, and only if it poses no threat to the species should it be approved. Not the other way round.