Joint press release of ARCHELON, MEDASSET and WWF Thursday 8 August 2019
Collisions of boats with sea turtles continue at Zakynthos National Marine Park – When will fines be imposed?
At the end of July 2019, twenty years after the establishment of the National Marine Park in Zakynthos (ICZM), we witness yet another turtle injury due to a boat collision in Laganas Bay.
“This is the second incident of the year and it was to be expected as many violations are recorded every day and reported to the competent authorities, but no fines are imposed”, says Anna Lamaj, the program officer of ARCHELON in Zakynthos.
Meanwhile, thousands of tourists visiting Laganas Bay this summer are beginning to realize that there seems to be no enforcement of protection measures, and many express their concern by sending comments to ARCHELON.
“It is not difficult to see that a boat is moving in the zone where navigation is completely prohibited (Zone A) from 1 May to 31 October. Just as easily, one can observe that a vessel is moving at speeds above the limit of 6 nautical knots established for the rest of the bay (Zones b and C) ”, says Panagiota Theodorou, lawyer and conservation Coordinator of ARCHELON.
“Violating both the speed limit and the restrictions that apply to the ICZM maritime zone poses risks to injury and disturbance of turtles in Laganas Bay. Informing visitors and adhering to the regulations can help create a safer environment for Caretta caretta ”, says Harikleia Minotou, WWF Greece, Zakynthos Project Manager.
Hundreds of visitors aboard boats daily to see the loggerhead turtles in the sea, in the part of the bay where navigation is permitted. Many of them are unknowingly involved in causing a great deal of suffering for the turtles, as the code of conduct for their observation is not respected.
In practice we see all measures being circumvented. Usually there are 5 boats around one turtle, more often than not these boats approach each animal less than 2 meters away and they stay there as long as they wish.
Worst of all, other vessels violate the cruise speed limit and injure or even kill sea turtles that spend most of the year in Laganas Bay. In particular we would like to recall that, in the past years, the ARCHELON team and the staff of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos have rescued several turtles, resident in the area, from hooks they had swallowed. Of these turtles, three adult males have very telling stories. The first, “Achilles”, had a bad end after a speedboat collision in 2017. The second, “Hercules” is now being treated at the ARCHELON Rescue Centre with serious injuries. There is a call for evidence and information on this case of collision, which occurred in July 2019.
The third turtle, “Agisilaos”, returned to the sea in early July, following months of treatment at the ARCHELON Rescue Centre. This turtle managed to cover the Attica-Zakynthos distance and to return to Zakynthos Marine Park within in a few days. What is the fate that awaits this specific turtle?
The co-signatories, ARCHELON, Medasset and WWF Greece, call upon the competent authorities to take action so that the regulations in the waters of Laganas Bay, which is a Nature Protection Area, are implemented. It is very important that the authorities impose the legal fines in case of violations, so that the protection of the loggerhead sea turtles will not be the objective of Zakynthos National Marine Park in paper only.
Please note: In the event that a citizen / visitor has any evidence of the sea turtle injury in July 2019, it is important that they contact ARCHELON or the Management Body of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos.
ARCHELON, Anna Lamaj, Program Officer of Zakynthos, Preveza and Amvrakikos Gulf, Tel: 6940 454976, email: [email protected]
Notes to editors and travel agents
1. The provisions in force in the marine area of Laganas Bay
Specific measures have been put in place to protect sea turtles arriving from various parts of the Mediterranean to lay their eggs in the maritime area of Laganas Bay, Zakynthos. These are:
The 3 zones described in the designation of the National Marine Park (Government Gazette D 906 / 22-12-1999):
- Zone A, where a full navigation ban is in force from May to October;
- Zone B, where there is a speed limit of 6 nautical knots for all vessels and a ban of amateur fishing
- Zone C, where there is a speed limit of 6 nautical knots for all vessels.
- The Code of Correct Observation of Sea Turtles from a Vessel, applies in Zone B and is enacted from 2018 with no. 2131.13 / 2063 / 29-5-2018 Decision of the Port Authority (appoint: 975H4653PH-BNZ)
- A jail sentence and a fine are to be imposed in the event of someone killing or injuring a protected species. The killing, injury or infliction of any other damage to sea turtles is prohibited. (Laws 1650/1986 (Article 28 – next) and 4042/2012 (Article 3) and Presidential Decree 67/1981 seen in combination)
2. ARCHELON’s instructions to visitors to Zakynthos
Visitors ATTENTION! Turtles in the sea!
If you command a vessel in Laganas Bay,
- adhere to the speed limit of 6 knots where navigation is permitted and avoided the area where navigation is banned.
- remember that amateur fishing is not allowed in the bay.
When booking a turtle-boat trip
- demand that the Code of Correct Observation of Sea Turtles from a Vessel is observed. This code has been endorsed by the National Marine Park of Zakynthos and registered by the Zakynthos Coast Guard.
Before boarding the boat, inform yourself of best practices
- up to 2 observation boats per turtle at a time.
- vessels should keep a very low speed – less than 2 l knots – during observation.
- Other nearby vessels remain at a distance of more than 45 m from the turtle.
When you are on board and watching
- make sure there is silence aboard
- remember the maximum observation time is 10 minutes
- the boat must approach a turtle in the sea always from its’ side
- the boat must always keep a distance of 15 meters from the turtle
- remember that the sea turtle lives in the wild
- avoid feeding and touching the sea turtles.
The institutional framework of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos can be found on their website : http://www.nmp-zak.org/en/node/70