Turkey Maritime Embargo Checks Cyprus' Fleet Growth
Although Cyprus has the world's tenth largest maritime fleet, an embargo imposed by Turkey in 1987 has adversely affected its development, said President Demetris Christofias speaking at the opening of the Maritime Cyprus 2011 conference in Limassol.
"The Cypriot shipping industry would have an even higher ranking in the world if there weren't constant warlike and restrictive measures by Turkey," he said.
The embargo prohibits Cypriot-flagged ships to call at Turkish ports and was a tit-for-tat measures in retaliation for the Republic of Cyprus' order to close Famagusta, Karavostasi and Kyrenia ports in Turkish-held north Cyprus.
Another challenging maritime issue is that of piracy, and Cyprus has decided to draw up a bill to contribute to the fight, said Christofias. It is due to be voted on in the House of Representatives soon.
Environmental issues are of great interest in the global community, said the president, adding that if Cyprus finds undersea hydrocarbons, every effort will be made to ensure that mining and transportation will not affect the island's ecosystem.
Meanwhile, the Merchant Shipping Department announced NIRIS 2011 exercises to be held off Limassol's coast. The exercise deals with serious incidents of oil pollution at sea and is in collaboration with the European Agency for Maritime Safety (EMSA). The ship Alexandria has been dedicated for the exercise.
The ship is based in Limassol and belongs to the network of backup vessels to combat oil pollution. EMSA estimates there are 500 new cases of oil spills per year around the EU.
EMSA coordinates satellite tracking of all shipping vessels which enter EU members states' territorial waters, taking near real-time images of oil slicks and catching the vessels responsible red-handed.