Environmental Baseline Survey (EBS) and Impact Assessment (EIA) for the expansion of Latsi Port (Tender #03/2022, CPA)

Estimated 1 year (November 2023 – Ongoing)

Funded by:
Cyprus Ports Authority

Project partners:
I.A.CO Environmental & Water Consultants Ltd.

Project Description:

Latsi Port, situated at the entrance of Akamas, originally served as a harbor for fishing boats in one of the most pristine areas of the country. Over the years, the increasing trend in maritime tourism in the Mediterranean prompted the expansion of the port to accommodate the rising demand for mooring space for pleasure boats. The forthcoming project aims to triple the size of Latsi Port, adding 350 new berths in accordance with modern international standards. This ambitious expansion initiative includes the creation of new land areas and facilities, strategically designed to meet future mooring needs, and allows for the mooring of cruise ships outside the windward breakwater. However, it’s crucial to recognize that such development poses potential risks to the marine ecosystem, underscoring the importance of conducting thorough environmental studies and implementing appropriate mitigation strategies to prevent adverse impacts.

As mandated by the law, an Environmental Baseline Survey (EBS) and an Environmental Impact Assessment Study (EIA) are prerequisites before the commencement of a port expansion. Categorized under project category 26, “Marinas, leisure boats shelters, and fishing shelters,” as per Annex I of the EIA Law of 2018, the project adheres to the legal requirements outlined in Article 18 of the law. Marine & Environmental Research (MER) Lab was contracted to undertake the EBS and EIA related to the marine environment for the expansion of the Latsi Port.

The EBS encompassed gathering existing primary data, with a strong emphasis on field survey data collected in winter 2024. These surveys focused on nearshore areas and key ecosystems, involving:

  • Sediment analyses included assessment for heavy metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Pb, Fe, and Zn), TBT, Total P and Total N, organic matter (OM), and grain-size analysis (granulometry).
  • Water Analysis for nutrients (K, P, N), E. coli, enterococci), and heavy metals, As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Pb, Fe and Zn.
  • Sampling and analysis of benthic macrofauna.
  • Underwater biodiversity censuses (fish, invertebrates, etc.), identifying all macro-species with a focus on protected and endangered species.
  • Habitat mapping focusing on Posidonia oceanica meadows and reefs, through the integration of previously established habitat maps with newly acquired ground-truthing data obtained from a tow camera.
  • Ecological assessments using specific biological indicators to evaluate the health status of the marine ecosystems. These include the Posidonia Rapid Easy Index (PREI), using the seagrass oceanica as a biological indicator, the Ecological evaluation index (EEI-c), which utilises macroalgae to provide insights into overall ecosystem health, and the BENTIX index, which uses macrofauna species to reflect the benthic ecosystem health and habitat quality.

The EIA includes:

  • Impact assessment, mitigation, and monitoring related to the marine environment of Cyprus.
  • Assessment of the sensitivity of vital biological features against potential construction and operational impacts.
  • Mitigation strategies to minimize environmental impacts.
  • The proposal of monitoring protocols, whereas deemed necessary.