Greece Becomes 1st European Nation To Ban Bottom Trawling In Marine Parks & Protected Areas

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Greece has become the first European nation to ban bottom trawling in its national marine parks and protected areas.

The country said it will invest €780 million to safeguard the diverse and unique marine ecosystems.

The Greek PM, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, informed the delegates at the Our Ocean conference in Athens on Tuesday that they have established two more marine national parks, one in the Ionian and one in the Aegean.

This will boost the size of marine protected areas by almost 80% and span one-third of the country’s marine territorial waters.

They plan to ban bottom trawling in the national parks by 2026 and marine protected areas by 2030. He added that he would establish a surveillance system, including drones, to enforce this ban.

The suggested Ionian marine national park would span nearly 12% of Greek territorial seas and protect sea animals such as sperm whales, striped dolphins, and the endangered Mediterranean monk seal.

The South Aegean MPA will cover 6.61% of the Greek territorial waters.

However, the Athens government’s decision to move forward with two new marine parks in the Ionian and Aegean has sparked tensions with Turkey, its historical competitor.

Last week, Ankara’s foreign ministry cautioned Greece that the Aegean project was in a disputed zone and was politically driven.

Conservationists applauded the announcement, hoping it would spark a “domino effect” and encourage other nations in the EU to follow suit.

Nicholas Fournier, the campaign director for marine protection at the international conservation group Oceana, mentioned that everyone is expecting Germany, France, or Spain to step up.

Greece’s championing of the ban on bottom trawling is a welcome change.

France is currently under pressure, as it will host the UN Oceans conference in 2025.

The news came as conservationists accused France of hypocrisy regarding a post-Brexit conflict with the UK about fishing rights.

The nation embarked on an official protest when the UK banned bottom trawling from some parts of its territorial waters to safeguard the especially vulnerable marine habitats.

Charles Clover, the co-founder of Blue Marine Foundation, a UK-based conservation entity, stated that Europe’s leaders need to sort out the chaos between its member states regarding marine protection.

France says that it has protected 30% of its waters, while its conservationists say that less than 0.1% are effectively protected from trawling.

France is also trying to prevent Britain from banning trawling in marine protected regions in the UK’s waters, which is deemed hypocritical and contrary to the habitats law.

Today, Greece is leading Europe by declaring openly that it will protect its MPAs from trawling by 2030.

Bottom trawling by industrial vessels is a destructive fishing technique that pulls heavy nets across the bottom, destroying habitats and emitting carbon into the earth’s atmosphere and water.

Oceana and other NGOs, such as the Marine Conservation Society and Seas at Risk, have urged the EU to take stricter action against members who still permit bottom trawling in their protected areas.

A report in March indicated that the harmful practice is still taking place in 90% of offshore MPAs within the EU.

Currently, 7-8% of the ocean is safeguarded, and 3% is categorized under the “highly protected” type.

Reference: The Guardian

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