HELLENIC SOCIETY FOR THE STUDY AND PROTECTION OF THE MONK SEAL
GYAROS, THE LESSON THAT MUST BE LEARNED
Unfortunately, the summer of 2022 will go down in the history of the protection of Greece's marine biodiversity as a disaster. The serious degradation of the marine wealth of Gyaros. It is the result of the uncontrolled and unconditional opening of a protected area to fishing. The destruction is apparently great, so much so that it has forced the Ministry of Environment and Energy to ban fishing in the area immediately. We cannot but welcome this decision as the reflexes of the Deputy Minister for the Environment, Mr. George Amyras, acted immediately and in the right direction in this case. However, we cannot blame this disaster on the Deputy Minister or even on him alone, but mainly on those who, in the name of the allegedly and quite crudely set up 'co-management', sought and achieved the opening of the area to fishing as it were, without implementing any of the very specific conditions that were initially set for this. A huge mistake that will probably be taught from now on as a negative example for the management of marine protected areas in marine science universities. At MOm we are both outraged and disappointed as the area (the island and the surrounding marine area within 3 nautical miles of its coastline) was included in the NATURA network thanks to the scientific data we provided to the relevant authorities on the very important Mediterranean seal population breeding on the island. We are also extremely concerned as at least two deaths of newborn seals this summer that were found dead in the area were probably related to fishing activities (entanglement in fishing gear). The area is "closed" again (as it should be), although it looks like it will take years to recover. We hope that at least the lesson will be understood by those with responsibility as it is very clear: You don't open a protected area to human activities unless you have first organised an effective management system with the necessary responsibilities, otherwise disaster is inevitable. And unfortunately our country is still far from having effective management systems for marine protected areas!