The Zenobia shipwreck off Larnaca contributes over 14 million Euros to the economy of Cyprus annually, Cypriot officials said last week, calling on the government to ban fishing in the area, which has become an important artificial reef.
A statement to mark the end of Zenobia Week, organised by the town’s authorities, diving centres, and the company that owns the wreck, said it was a one of a kind artificial reef, contributing significantly to biodiversity in the area.
“A large number of tourists choose Cyprus and Larnaca as a holiday destination just to dive at the specific location,” the statement said.
Local authorities estimate that Zenobia attracts some 45,000 divers a year, making it one of the most popular wreck dives in the world.
Unfortunately, according to the town’s tourism promotion association, government departments appeared to ignore the fact.
“It is inconceivable for illegal fishing to be continuing in the location, which constitutes the most important reef in Cyprus and should be protected.”
The Zenobia sank in June 1980 on its maiden voyage from Sweden to Syria. It is the largest shipwreck in the Mediterranean at 174 metres long, 28 metres wide and 21 metres high.
Its hold contained 108 Lorries full of cargo such as cars, military equipment, telecommunication systems, air conditioning systems, toys and food.
It was also carrying a million eggs, many of which are still intact on the seabed.
The wreck has turned into an artificial reef that hosts thousands of fish species such as groupers, barracuda, bream, and others, along with coral, sea anemones and other underwater vegetation.
The Zenobia lays at a depth of around 42 metres and is just 10 minutes by boat from the mainland.