MIO-ECSDE MEDITERRANEAN ACTION DAY 2020: Fishermen for the Akamas Marine Protected Area
The Akamas Pensinsula in Cyprus has been designated a Natura 2000 site for its rich and pristine terrestrial biodiversity. The marine area around the Akamas Peninsula has also been designated as a Marine Protected Area, the only one in Cyprus, because it is home to the island’s most important marine turtle reserve. Nonetheless, the wider Paphos District, within which the Akamas Pensinsula is located, has seen rapid development in recent years, as a result of increased touristic and foreign investment opportunities. Consequently, there is an ongoing, often heated debate, on the need of the conservation status of the peninsula as most of the land is privately owned. At the same time, the Cypriot fishing community, already struggling as a result of the relatively poor, oligotrophic waters of Cyprus, is eager to expand its fishing area within the Akamas Marine Protected Area. The root cause of the problem is a lack of understanding of the importance of the Akamas Natura 2000 site not only to the local and national environment but also to the local and national economy.
AKTI has extensive experience in working with local stakeholders in the wider Paphos/Akamas area and in environmental awareness-raising in general. This experience has demonstrated that bridging the knowledge and awareness gap can have significant positive impacts in changing behaviors and supporting environmental protection actions. A notable example is the very recently launched by AKTI (June 2020) Fishing for Litter initiative in Paphos (the first in the Republic of Cyprus), under the name Seanergy, with the active and eager collaboration of the Paphos District Fishermen’s Union. These are the same fishermen that operate in the periphery of the Akamas Natura 2000 site!
Also through several other activities in the area (such as Blue Cafes, the MELTEMI project activities etc), for the last 10 years, AKTI has created a base of stakeholders that can act as a core group to spread the word that protecting Akamas as a precious MPA is a win win situation! Through this proposal, AKTI would like to build on the success of its activities in the Akamas Pensinsula and boost public engagement so as to have more stakeholders supporting the protection of Akamas Natura 2000 site.
This has been achieved through the organization and implementation of a series of awareness-raising activities, as follows:
✅ The organization of a hike in the Natura 2000 site and more specifically at Avakas Gorge
✅ The implementation of semi-structured interview, virtual and over the phone, with fishermen, NGOs, tour operators and educators in the area to identify the main bottlenecks as well as solutions on how the Akamas Marine Protected Area can become a significant asset for the economic prosperity of the area.
✅ A social media campaign on Natura 2000 and especially the Akamas site.