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“Our Seas are not for Sale!” Greenpeace urges Greece to do more on the seas protection

“Our Seas are not for Sale!” With this illuminated message on the Acropolis, the Sounion Cape and other locations, the Greek branch of Greenpeace sent a clear message to the country’s political leadership on the occasion of the “9th International Ocean Conference Our Ocean” currently taking place in Athens.

Addressing Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greenpeace urged him to “rise to the occasion and take serious and responsible actions to protect our seas.”

The organization for the Protection of Environment stated it demands:

✅ Cancel plans for hydrocarbon extractions
✅ Ratify the Global Oceans Treaty
✅ Declare the Hellenic Trench a marine protected area

In his speech at the Ocean Conference on Tuesday, PM Mitsotakis announced the government’s  plan to create two large marine parks in the Aegean and the Ionian Sea as part of a 780-million-euro program to protect biodiversity and marine ecosystems that includes banning bottom trawling and tackling plastic and microplastic pollution,

Bottom trawling will be banned in all marine protected areas by 2030, while a surveillance system using drones, satellites and artificial intelligence will be set up by 2026 to patrol the areas, the PM said.

He also pledged that by 2030, Greece will reduce plastic pollution in the water by 50% and microplastics by 30% compared to 2019 levels.

However, for environmental organizations, the initiative doesn’t go far enough and demand strongest commitment and concrete measures. They criticize Greece’s government noting that the country also allows environmentally harmful practices such as energy exploration in sensitive marine environments.

The conference “must not be simply an opportunity for governments to congratulate themselves for what they have said until now,” said Nikos Charalambidis, head of Greenpeace, as the AssociatedPress reported.

Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and other organizations have long leveled particular criticism at Greece for allowing deep-sea seismic exploration for energy and mineral resources in the Hellenic Trench, which includes the deepest waters in the Mediterranean at more than 5,200 meters.

Συλλογή υπογραφών για την ανακήρυξη της Ελληνικής Τάφρου σε ...The Greek Trench

The trench, which stretches from southwestern Greece to Crete, is a vital habitat for the Mediterranean’s few hundred sperm whales and other marine mammals already threatened by fishing, ship collisions, plastic pollution and seismic surveys aiming for hydrocarbon exploitation.

Meanwhile, police banned a planned protest by environmental organizations at the venue of Stavros Niarhos foundation where the ocean confecere is taking place.

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About 20 protesters turned up at a nearby location holding banners calling for an end to deep-sea mining and for the protection of the seas, AP reported.

GreenpeaceGR,WWF-Med and other environmental organizations held a side event on wednesday, April 17, during the “Our Ocean conference” aiming to foster a comprehensive dialogue on enhancing marine conservation.

PS to tell you the truth I’m reluctant to be convinced about the Greek government intentions, and I hope the marine parks plan will not be limited to a bid to acquire the planned surveillance equipment, while its implementation will be written in the stars, as often happened with many other ambitious projects.

I just hope to see even a part of it implemented while I’m still on earth and not six feet under.

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