Local authorities in Limassol and state service have their hands full with a marine pollution problem which, although typical for this time of year, has reached unprecedented levels while the root of the problem remains a mystery.
Despite the Limassol municipality taking action after numerous reports of sewage being dumped in the water by ships moored offshore and daily surveys by the Fisheries Department and harbour police, as well as the Commercial Shipping Department continuing its on-the-spot checks on vessels moored offshore to ensure sewage is properly disposed of, the problem persists.
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A report released by Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) has pinpointed Limassol port as one of the main causes of organic pollution in the area as the port lacks the infrastructure to collect and manage organic waste from visiting ships.
Ships berthed in the port of Limassol are the main cause for organic pollution along the Limassol coastline, as is, albeit to a lesser degree, the Limassol Marina.
The same report has ruled out hotels, the Limassol zoo and road drainage as possible contributors to the pollution problem.
In a reaction to the report, the Cyprus Ports Authority (CPA) announced that the waste management facilities at Limassol port were in line with the law.
The CPA pointed out that it has licensed a private company to collect and manage waste from ships calling at the port.
It also demands that all ships anchoring at the port submit an ‘International Sewage Pollution Prevention Certificate.’
“This measure reinforces the Authority’s administrative control on board ships in order to ascertain whether ships have a tertiary sewage treatment system and do not require the delivery of waste water to the port for collection and management,” said the CPA
In an effort to eliminate or at least minimise pollution of Limassol Bay, the state last week decided to coordinate efforts to tackle the situation on a Ministerial level with Transport Minister Marios Demetriades heading the efforts and assisted by Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis.
The two have agreed to increase checks in the area and have put together a plan of action to put an end to the phenomenon.
But Demetriades said the source of the coastal pollution is yet unknown.
Complaints to the Environmental Department regarding the levels of pollution in Limassol waters have risen dramatically over the last two years – including complaints from organised swimmers – while subsequent investigations have concluded that the pollution has its source in the sea and not from land.
Despite this, all 64 drains leading to the sea from the new port to the Le Meridien Hotel have been checked, only to confirm that they are not a source of the pollution.
In a statement, the Agriculture Ministry announced that tests and water analysis performed in the sea surrounding the fish farms near Limassol showed that they did not contribute to the problem.
According to the Ministry, the results showed that effects from the fisheries did not go beyond their delimited area, which is a 200-metre radius around each fishery.
“Based on the results and given the effect on the area from other sources, – harbour anchorage, passing vessels and other sources, the impact of fish farming is not considered to contribute to the incidents of pollution observed in recent years in Limassol Bay,” concluded the statement.