Greece warned again over turtle protection

EU moves a step closer to court action, alleging failure to comply with habitats directive

The European Commission is to send Greece a last warning that court action will be launched unless it speeds up action to protect the rare Mediterranean sea turtle, the EU's executive announced yesterday. The species is listed as endangered in the EU's 1992 habitats directive, meaning that it must be accorded special protection by member states. The Commission alleges that Greece has failed to prevent disruption at one of the species' main breeding grounds despite being sent a first legal warning over the issue last year (ENDS Daily 9 October 1998). The site is the bay of Laganas on the Greek island of Zakynthos, where tourism activities are alleged to have interfered with the turtle's ability to lay eggs on local beaches. The Commission says that the Greek authorities responded to its first warning by indicating that they would adopt a presidential decree creating a marine park in the area. But it describes itself as "dissatisfied with the significant delays and the lack of a firm timetable for effective measures," especially given that member states should have taken measures to prevent deterioration of the habitats of endangered species from June 1995.

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