NICOSIA, March 6 (Xinhua) -- For the first time in many years there has been a "striking reduction" in bird trapping last year, thanks to new strict measures, a nature protection group said on Tuesday.
A statement by BirdLife Cyprus said that monitoring data for autumn 2017 showed a 79-percent decrease in trapping with illegal mist nets compared to 2002 and a sharp drop compared to autumn 2016.
"This is one of the lowest trapping levels with mist nets recorded since the start of the surveillance program, a very encouraging outcome for the main 2017 trapping season," a BirdLife statement added.
"Effective enforcement efforts of all competent authorities in combination with the imposition of deterrent penalties for offenders have brought welcome relief in the trapping situation," Martin Hellicar, Director of BirdLife Cyprus said.
The organization said that findings of a surveillance program showed that there had been 6.5 kilometers of mist net rides during the trapping season.
Bird trapping is a big issue for the eastern Mediterranean island which was forced to introduce draconian measures against bird trapping to avoid huge fines by the European Union.
Trapping of birds, which are sold illegally in restaurants as a gourmet dish, has been a centuries-old past time for residents of rural areas in Cyprus, as it has been in almost all Mediterranean countries.
Trapping is done mostly along the south coast of the island, part of which is within the jurisdiction of the British sovereign bases on the island.
Both Cypriot and British base authorities have introduced stricter surveillance measures, including placing stealth cameras on trees, and also fines of thousands of euros for the trapping of each single bird.
But poachers still manage to evade surveillance by placing their nets within fenced private properties.