Within its subjects of interest the Marine Environment Division (MED) has developed a significant activity in the field of monitoring and research of the marine environment in the framework of implementation of several European and National laws, as well as International and Regional conventions.
Specifically MED operates:
· Implementation of the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD, 2008/56/EC), which aims to achieve and maintain 'Good Environmental Status' of the marine environment by 2020. DFMR is responsible for the MSFD in Cyprus and participates in the activities of implementation of the Directive at European level, including the meetings of Marine Directors, the Marine Strategy Coordination Group (MSCG), the Good Environmental Status Working Group (WG GES) and the Working Group on Data, Information and Knowledge Exchange (WG DIKE).
· Implementation of the Habitats Directive (92/43 / EC) on the part related to the sea: In this framework, monitoring programs are applied for the different species and habitats under the Directive. Among these are: the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus monitoring program aiming to obtain further information about the seal population and its habitat, the turtle Conservation Project and the Posidonia oceanica monitoring program.
· Implementation of the Water-Framework Directive (WFD, 2000/60/EC) for its part related to the coastal waters. Since 2007, in accordance with Article 8 of the WFD, the MED implements a comprehensive monitoring program for the assessment of the ecological and chemical status of the coastal waters of Cyprus. The monitoring and assessment is based on 4 Biological Quality Elements (BQEs) of the coastal waters as defined in the Directive: Benthic Macroinvertebrates, Macroalgae, Phytoplankton (chlorophyll-a) and Angiosperms (Posidonia oceanica). For this purpose, an extensive ongoing sampling is carried out through a range of representative sampling stations in the coastal water bodies of Cyprus
- DFMR is the coordinator from Cyprus in the Mediterranean Geographical Intercalibration Group (MedGIG) for the coastal waters and is also involved under the coordination of the Water Development Department which is responsible for implementing the WFD in Cyprus, in the Monitoring Committee for the Implementation of Measures (EPEM) of the WFD to achieve and / or maintain " good ecological status " of the waters of Cyprus.
· Spatial and temporal monitoring of chlorophyll-a and nutrients (Fig 4a - Fig 4b-Fig 4c - Fig 4d- Fig 4e) like nitrogen and phosphorus, through a range of sampling stations along the coastline of Cyprus, with special emphasis on coastal waters which are sensitive to nitrate pollution i.e. the Kokkinochoria area (vulnerable zone). This activity is carried out in the framework of the Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC), for which DFMR is responsible for monitoring the coastal waters, which are vulnerable to eutrophication by nitrates from agricultural sources.
· Protection, management and monitoring programs of endangered aquatic species and their habitats, i.e. protection of sea turtles (Chelonia mydas & Caretta caretta), (Fig 6a - Fig 6b), and the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus). Since 1978, DFMR implements the Cyprus Turtle Conservation Project centered at the Lara Station in the Akamas Penisnula. The project aims at: 1) protecting of adult turtles; 2) protecting the turtle eggs and hatchlings from natural predation such as foxes and also from human activities; 3) protecting and conservation of the remaining reproductive biotopes; 4) monitoring of the turtle population dynamics and their reproductive and nesting activity in Cyprus and 5) raising public awareness for the protection and conservation of turtles and the marine environment in general. The Lara/ Toxeftra Reserve has been accepted and included in the catalog of the Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI) Catalog under the Protocol for the Special Protected Areas and Biodiversity in the Mediterranean, after a relevant suggestion of DFMR to the Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention (Map of SPAMIs).
· Establishment of marine protected areas with Artificial Reefs in the framework of the DFMR΄s Strategy for the Creation of Artificial Reefs.
· Studies and monitoring on the ecology and environmental parameters fluctuations (Fig 7a - Fig 7b) of Larnaca and Akrotiri Salt Lakes and Fassouri Wetland with the scope of their preservation. Participation in the Larnaca Salt Lake Management Plan
· Establishment of marine protected areas (Natura 2000) under Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and the Protocol of Specially Protected Areas and Biodiversity in the Mediterranean, of the Barcelona Convention.
· Research on impact assessment from several anthropogenic activities on marine ecosystems (i.e. desalination plants, fish farms etc.)
· Studies and monitoring on the emergence and spread of invasive alien species in the marine environment of Cyprus, such as the green alga Caulerpa racemosa.
· Monitoring eutrophication incidents with macroalgae, i.e. the periodic occurrence of the green alga Cladophora spp. (“malla”)
· Evaluation of Environmental Impact Assessment studies for several projects - participation in the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee under Law no. 140 (I) / 2005