Greek minister says 2 major new marine parks will be created by the end of this year

Greece's environment and energy minister says his country will be able to create two new major marine parks in the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea by the end of this year

Elena Becatoros
Wednesday 17 April 2024 16:52 BST

Greece will be able to create the two new major marine parks it has announced for the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea by the end of this year, the country’s environment and energy minister said Wednesday.

Speaking during an international ocean conference in Athens, Theodoros Skylakakis said scientific studies to determine details such as which species will be protected and what measures must be taken will be completed and implemented by year's end.

“Real protection needs to be backed by real science,” Skylakakis said.

The creation of the park in the Aegean has irked Greece’s neighbor and regional rival Turkey, which has accused Athens of exploiting environmental issues to push a geopolitical agenda. The NATO allies have been at odds for decades over a variety of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean.

The park will aim to protect seabirds and will cover more than 8,000 square kilometers (3,088 square miles) or just over 6.6% of Greece’s territorial waters.

The new park in the Ionian Sea in western Greece will focus on the protection of marine mammals and extend over 14,000 square kilometers (over 5,400 square miles) from north of the island of Kefallonia to Antikythira in the south, covering 11% of Greek territorial waters.

A new system to monitor the parks that will include the use of drones, satellites and artificial intelligence will be ready by 2026, Skylakakis said, with monitoring by traditional methods until then.

The parks' creation was part of Greece’s pledges during the Our Ocean Conference, with other measures including a ban on bottom trawling in national marine parks by 2026 and in all marine protected areas by 2030, reducing plastic pollution and mapping marine habitats of protected areas.

Nearly 120 countries and 20 international and regional organizations attended the two-day conference, raising $11.3 billion in more than 460 commitments for marine-related environmental protection, organizers said.

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