Letter sent by the WWF and the head of the Greek section of mining at Sea, Dimitris Ibrahim , to candidates and candidates for the Region of Ionian Islands.
To: Candidates and Candidates Regional Governors, Ionian Islands
April 24, 2019
Honorable – Messrs. Candidates – the Regional Governors,
The Ionian islands have one of the most important challenges they have ever faced. The Greek government has already granted oil companies a marine and land area that reaches a total of 75,000 square kilometers for exploration and extraction of oil and gas and plans to grant even more. We urge you to actively join the hydrocarbon mines in the Ionian Sea and the rest of Greece in order to curb an unprecedented threat with devastating effects on the natural environment of the Ionian and, by extension, local communities, tourism and the national economy.
The exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons directly threaten the marine and coastal natural wealth of the Ionian Sea. Negative impacts begin already from the initial stage of seismic surveys, while heavy industrial and oil pollution threaten for decades the emblematic species that live or meet in our seas and the unique natural wealth of our country. Indicatively, the plots granted for exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons cover a large part of areas that have been identified as Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) .
Contracts signed and / or ratified are extremely beneficial to the oil industry and are detrimental to the country. Typically, environmental seismic surveys are exempt from the obligation to carry out an environmental impact study, exploration and extraction work is permitted in protected areas , while the economic benefits to the national budget and the regions – as provided for in the ratified conventions – is poor.
In addition, the deep and outdated mines planned in this area are an extremely dangerous venture that hides serious accident hazards with devastating consequences for the economic activity of the Ionian Sea and jobs directly dependent on healthy seas and coasts such as tourism and the fishing.
The licensed and concession areas cover 44% of IMMA’s “Greek Trench” (24,970 km2) and 34 of IMMA’s total “Ionian Archipelago” (3,253 km2)
- There is a zone of exclusion of just one kilometer of marine protected areas in the marine ‘plots’ of the Ionian Sea, a clearly inadequate measure as the impact extends to tens of square kilometers from the point of a drilling.
The significant risks of regular leakage and major oil spills in hydrocarbon extraction can not be overlooked in an area like the Ionian, where the tourism industry accounts for nearly 75% of GDP, according to a SETE report.
International experience has shown that both regular pollution and nuisance created by mining and the occurrence of oil spills mean dramatic reductions in the tourist product and jobs directly and indirectly related to tourism. This is also the conclusion of the recent economic and technical study on behalf of WWF Hellas (more information in the annex), which forecasts a loss of € 1.8 billion. income and 25 000 jobs in the Ionian Sea in a big oil spill case .
For all of the above reasons, we ask you to be publicly opposed to exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons and to take effective action for a sustainable future for the inhabitants of your region and for all the citizens of the country. Your position on hydrocarbon mining in the Ionian Sea will be published by WWF Hellas.
Responsible for the WWF Hellas campaign against hydrocarbon mining.