Monday, 22 July 2019
Already the first 1,000 nests of the sea turtle are housed in the unique beaches of Zakynthos. However, the plans for mining in the Ionian area are in direct danger of marine life, but also the future of the region.
© Maite Baldi / WWF
The WWF sailing boat “Blue Panda” is currently at its first station in Zakynthos, where it will stay until 22/7. Its next stations, the islands of Ithaca (24-26 / 7) and Kefalonia (28-30 / 7), where the public will have the opportunity to visit it and participate in its planned actions for free.
During the stay of the vessel in Zakynthos, a series of publicly open events and events (such as a mobile exhibition of photography, cinematic screening) aiming at informing, sensitizing and mobilizing the inhabitants and visitors of Zakynthos around the most important a new threat to the Greek seas: oil and gas extraction.
Zakynthos was chosen to be included on the Blue Panda tour across the Mediterranean for two main reasons. On the one hand, the island and, in particular, its sandy beaches, are one of the largest and most important – throughout the Mediterranean – nesting habitats and, therefore, perpetuation of a particularly vulnerable species, the sea turtle Caretta caretta. On the other hand, Zakynthos is one of the dozens of Greek islands whose natural environment, economy and local community are directly threatened by the exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons planned to take place in the area of the Greek Trench, which penetrates the Ionian Sea.
” Zakynthos is the island of the sea turtle Caretta caretta and hosts the most important ocean turtle spawning beach across the Mediterranean. However, on the island of Zakynthos, the government, along with the oil companies, is preparing to start work on exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons. WWF is opposed to these plans and calls on the Ionian society and our fellow citizens across the country to be informed and to say a strong not to mining. Fossil fuels must remain on the ground. The Ionian Islands must remain alive, “ said Dimitris Karavellas, General Manager of WWF Hellas.
43 protected areas in the Ionian Sea, dozens of world-wide marine species, tourism and the local economy are threatened directly by mining
The Ionian islands are surrounded by six plots of land with a total area of almost 17,000 square kilometers, which have been lent by the government to oil companies to carry out hydrocarbon exploration and extraction and gain control over the region for at least 25 years. A total of 43 sites in June which have been formally established as “protected areas” are adjacent to these plots. Indicatively, we mention the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, the Strofades Islands, the Strait of Kefalonia in Ithaca and the sea zone from Argostoli to the bay of Mounta, all of the unique beauty and ecologically important areas that will have to face irreversible losses from the first stage of seismic surveys, especially in the case of regular pollution or oil spills.
Moreover, it is worth noting that the deep depths of the Ionian Sea combined with the seismicity of the area make the mines very dangerous with a great risk of failures and accidents. This combined with the fact that the tourism and fisheries sectors provide nearly 3/4 of the income of the Ionian Region every year, further exacerbate the consequences of an accident. To get a full picture of the figures, in 2017 alone, tourism contributed € 2.2 billion to the economy of the Ionian Sea (SETE data  ). On the other hand, according to a recent study by WWFEL , an oil spill in the Ionian Sea would cost 1.4 billion euros of income loss, while at the same time it would also lead to the loss of almost 25,000 jobs directly or indirectly dependent on tourism.
Finally, due to its unique natural features, the Ionian Sea is the home for dozens of globally threatened marine species (eg sea turtle, Mediterranean seal, dolphins, wad, blower, and quadruple), which are particularly vulnerable to any small changing their natural environment. Devastating noise from seismic surveys, increased ship crossings during the extraction process, and pollution, create a dangerous environment for the survival of these rare species that not only contribute to the balance of marine ecosystems but also ensure growth in coastal but also national level.
The presence of Caretta caretta in Zakynthos is threatened
The enormous ecological importance of the wider Ionian region is reflected, among other things, by the keen presence of the sea turtle Caretta caretta . Indicatively, we report that 70% to 80% of Caretta caretta sea turtle nests in the Bay of Lagana and Kyparissiakos Gulf . Nevertheless, both are just a few kilometers away from three plots allocated for exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons.
Only in Zakynthos, from early May began laying season, until today, they have already made their appearance first 1,000 nests (elements 21 th July) at six beaches of Laganas Bay, which are counted by the Association for the Protection the Sea Turtle of ARCHELON and the National Marine Park of Zakynthos (NMPH). It is reminded that the last spawning period (May – October 2018) was a record year for the nests of the species that were housed in the beaches of Zakynthos. Specifically, a total of 1,464 nests were counted, out of which 783 nests (more than half) were found at Sekani beach, which confirms the characterization of this beach as the most important Caretta Carettamaternity hospitalacross the Mediterranean, as well as the beach where one of the highest nesting densities for the species is recorded throughout the world.
The Caretta caretta is one of the most iconic, and vulnerable species in the Mediterranean. In order to give birth to her eggs, she always returns to the same beach where she was born, which confirms the importance of maintaining, managing and protecting nesting beaches. Unfortunately, only 1 in 1,000 born turtles manage to survive and age as the threats facing the species remain many. These are both natural threats, such as predator attacks (gulls, fish, rodents) and man-made threats such as the degradation of spawning beaches from tourism development, coastal infrastructure, land use change, light pollution and pollution beach and sea from plastics.
Seismic surveys and hydrocarbon extraction work are added to these. Permanent or temporary loss of hearing, behavioral disturbances, psychological stress, disorientation, increased risk of even fatal injuries and pollution of spawning beaches are just some of the risks that will affect the species from the very beginning of these operations.
The cost to our country of hydrocarbon extraction is much larger and more serious than the uncertain benefits that international experience has already denied.
It’s not too late to say no to mining!
” Blue Panda” will be in the ports of Ithaca (24-26 / 7) and Kefalonia (28-30 / 7) in the following days and will be open to residents and visitors of these islands every afternoon at the port of the island (18.00-22.00). Get here for more information or come to meet the WWF Hellas team at one of the next stops of ” Blue Panda”.
PHOTOS & VIDEO:
- From the following link https://we.tl/t-rMAWZqhZRm you can download photos and video drone with the Blue Panda boat.
- Here you can find videos with statements by Dimitris Karavella (General Manager, WWF Hellas).
INFORMATION & ADDITIONAL INFORMATION MATERIAL:
From the following link https://we.tl/t-MzjxNyDps6 you can download the following materials:
- Excel file with all the protected areas of the Ionian Islands within a radius of 10 km of plots granted to oil companies for exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons.
- Infographics with the cost of mining for the Ionian.
- Charter with plots granted to oil for exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons
- Table with the rare marine species that swim in the Ionian Sea and the main threats they face from exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons.
- Factsheet “What are the mines in the Ionian Sea”
- 2. INSET Source: http://www.insete.gr/Portals/0/meletes-INSETE/01/2018_SymvolhTourismou-2017.pdf
- Table with the impact of exploration and extraction work on the emblematic marine species of the Ionian Sea, at the following link: https://www.wwf.gr/images/pdfs/pinakas_eidon_kai_apeilon.pdf
- Oil exploration and extraction operations are permitted throughout the Ionian Sea. For the protected areas, an exclusion zone is only one kilometer away from the coast. Source: Joint Ministerial Decision for the approval of SEPA for the Ionian Sea Area
- Seismic surveys that are proven to be extremely hazardous to marine life are exempt from an environmental impact study. Source: Joint Ministerial Decision for the approval of SEPA for the Ionian Sea Area
Blue Panda’s trip to our country takes place during the WWF tour of the Mediterranean, aiming at informing and raising awareness of the modern environmental challenges facing the marine life of the Mediterranean. In particular, in the coming months, Blue Panda will cross the Mediterranean (France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco) in order to highlight the unique Mediterranean biodiversity and its immediate threats, such as marine pollution from plastic waste, overfishing and hydrocarbon mines.
Blueprint for Blue Panda
- Ithaca: Wednesday 24/7 – Friday 26/7
Where: Port of Vathi Ithaca
Hours of action on the boat: Every day from 18.00 to 22.00
Opening of graffiti : Thursday 25/7
* The graffiti team will be created by the UrbanAct artists group ( https : //urbanact.gr/ )
- Kefalonia: Sunday 28/7 – Tuesday 30/7
Where: Port of Sami
Hours of operation on boat: Every day from 18.00 to 22.00
Concert: Monday 29 / 7- Loutro Beach, Sami (Free admission)
* The concert is organized by Open Convention of Kefalonia-Ithaca against hydrocarbon extraction, with the support of WWF Hellas
source – www.wwf.gr