Cyprus: Divers banned from major underwater attraction

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Cyprus: Divers banned from major underwater attraction

Beitrag von mare-mundi Redaktion » 27 Feb 2012 14:40

Cyprus: Divers banned from major underwater attraction

ONE OF the world’s top ten wreck dives, the Zenobia, which lies just off the Larnaca coast, is now off limits after a controversial decision by the port authorities which has enraged divers.

:arrow: http://www.cyprus-mail.com/diving/diver ... n/20120226

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Zenobia - via WikiMedia Commons

“It’s going to cripple every single dive school. The Zenobia is the one place that pulls divers in,” said Alex Dimitriou who is just about to set up a diving school in Cyprus.
The Zenobia sits at a depth of 42 metres on the seabed with the top lying at 15 metres making it accessible to novices yet still challenging to advanced divers.
The 12,000 tonne 178-metre long ferry sank in 1980, taking with it some 1,000 lorries, industrial machinery and other cargo.
Divers can see vending machines, sinks and even unbroken eggs, all well preserved because conditions allow for a slow corrosion.
“It’s like no other wreck,” Dimitriou said.
But port authorities decided to ban diving in port waters for “legal reasons”, port authorities’ general director Yiannakis Kokkinos said.
Kokkinos said that the family of a woman who died while diving in 2010 were “considering legal action against port authorities because they consider us responsible for her death”.
Catherine Vicar, 33, was found unconscious in the engine room of the Zenobia shipwreck in October 2010.
She had separated from her group and ran out of oxygen while underwater.
“Look, diving can be dangerous if people do not follow safety precautions and that accident was very unfortunate. But in my years of diving in Zenobia, there were four deaths that I know of even though thousands dive each year. Compare that to some 15 who have died off Cape Greco,” a diving instructor told the Sunday Mail on condition of anonymity.
The instructor said that there were a number of safety precautions in place including extra air tanks six metres down and rails to hold on during decompression stops.
But the instructor thought banning diving outright was “extremely arbitrary”.
“You know that bull that killed that worker the other day? Are we going to ban bulls now?” he said referring to an accident earlier this week when a bull attacked and killed a farm worker.
The head of the Cyprus Dive Centre Association, Andy Varoshiotis, agreed.
“If there is an accident on the highway, are you going to ban driving?”
Larnaca mayor, Andreas Louroudjiadis said the port authorities’ decision was “rushed (and arbitrary) and I am being careful in using these words with this specific meaning”.
“It reminds me of this thing we say that when we can’t regulate something, we simply ban it,” Louroudjiadis said.
Head of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation Alecos Orountiotis said that port authorities had not actually consulted them and that he had been “informed by the press”.
The CTO had also paid around €50,000 to pay four ships to be sunk in other spots, including Paphos, Paralimni and Limassol in order to promote marine tourism such as diving, Orountiotis said.
He said that he did not know what would happen to those plans now.
“Sea sports bring in some €150 million in tourist revenue each year: it’s a huge product,” Varoshiotis said.
But the head of port authorities, Chryssis Prentzas said they had no choice but to ban diving in port waters.
“Until those interested get the necessary licences, port authorities will not allow diving,” Prentzas said.
“It’s the Cyprus Port Authorities’ (CPA) social obligation to ensure all members of the public who do this will do so within the context of health and safety,” Prentzas said.
CPA have evoked legislation dating back to 1973 and says that anyone swimming or diving anywhere that falls within its jurisdiction (three nautical miles) needs a licence, Varoshiotis said.
“Are swimmers bathing in the beaches going to apply for a licence too?” Varoshiotis said.
He said Prentzas promised that he would come back to them on Tuesday with more information on what the licence will involve and whether the ban will remain or not.
And while the dive centre association got a letter from the CPA informing them of the ban only on February 20, one specific diving school got a letter almost six months ago in September. They said they had sent five letters asking how they could get a licence and were “ignored”.
CPA’s Kokkinos said that the creation of a legal framework to regulate was lacking and the ban was an interim compromise.
In the meantime, it is not clear how licences will be issued.
“I really hope I get to do the dive,” said 30-year old recreational diver Ken Nicolson. “I recently roped my piiieps into doing a diving course just so we could do the Zenobia together. It’s pretty much the only decent dive in Cyprus,” he said.
News of the ban is already being discussed online in diving forums.
“That’s Cyprus off the list until they sort the mess out!” one British diver said online.

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Re: Cyprus: Divers banned from major underwater attraction

Beitrag von mare-mundi Redaktion » 05 Mär 2012 18:03

Zenobia diving ban lifted

THE CYPRUS Port Authority (CPA) decided to lift a diving ban for the Zenobia shipwreck following a strong reaction by interested parties who were furious over last week’s ban announcement.

:arrow: http://www.cyprus-mail.com/zenobia/zeno ... d/20120302


“The CPA will issue temporary licences for the remainder of the year to all diving schools, organised bodies and individuals wanting to dive the Zenobia,” the CPA’s general director, Yiannakis Kokkinos told the Mail yesterday.
The CPA met with relevant parties to determine how to regulate diving in the Zenobia instead of banning it outright as the CPA seemed to originally intend.
The Cyprus Dive Centre Association (CDCA) was informed by the CPA last week that diving in the Zenobia or anywhere else falling under the CPA’s jurisdiction (three nautical miles) was banned.
The news took many parties including the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the Larnaca municipality by surprise with mayor Andreas Louroudjiadis calling the decision “rushed and arbitrary”.
The CPA said that divers and diving schools now needed to get a licence however there was no explanation of what the procedure entailed and it was understood that the CPA had effectively banned diving on the wreck.
The CDCA extracted a promise from the CPA that they would come back to them this week with more information.
Kokkinos told the Mail last week they banned diving because the family of a woman who died while diving in 2010 considered them “responsible for her death”.
Catherine Vicar, 33, ran out of air while diving and was found unconscious in the engine room of the shipwreck in October 2010.
Kokkinos said that the CPA “did not change its position.”
“The aim is to ensure the safety of divers,” Kokkinos said adding however that Vicar’s death may have been an “indirect reason” to ban diving.
The CPA will give licences only to those who “strictly follow safety rules,” Kokkinos said adding that any fees would be nominal.
Kokkinos said that the more general problem still existed of regulating the industry and ensuring a legal framework supersedes the sport (still discussed at the House).
The Zenobia, is a popular wreck dive and lies just off the Larnaca coast. Thousands come to Cyprus to dive it every year. It has been listed as one of the top ten diving wrecks in the world.
To learn more on how to get a diving licence application form, call the CPA at 22817200.

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