Our Ocean Conference: Time for bold commitments and action!

Posted on April, 09 2024

At a critical moment for Mediterranean marine ecosystems, the 9 signatory environmental NGOs stress the need for clear and bold commitments, as science dictates.

The 9th Our Ocean Conference which Greece is organizing in Athens between 15-17 April 2024 and the relevant governments’ commitments, as preempted in yesterday’s press conference, is an important opportunity for Greece to show the world that it takes serious action for the protection of the marine environment.

It shouldn’t be neglected that it was the Greek Prime Minister who announced similar commitments during the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Conference in September 2021 in Marseille, that unfortunately remain unfulfilled to this day.

Yesterday’s announcement on the creation of two national marine parks in the Ionian and Aegean Sea is first and foremost an important initiative, given the exceptional ecological values of these areas. However, for this commitment to have an actual impact on the protection of marine biodiversity in these areas, critical issues still need to be clarified, such as the boundaries of these areas, their legal status and permitted uses within the areas.

However, the most important outstanding issue in the case of the Ionian, that still needs to be clarified, concerns the existing concession contracts for exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons (oil and gas) in these areas. Banning these activities will be imperative as a marine protected area is by no means compatible with oil and gas extractions existing within.

Finally, we welcome the initiative to ban bottom trawling across all marine protected areas by 2030. This commitment needs to be implemented within the context of a just and inclusive transition framework for the fishers, ensuring also that bottom trawl fishing efforts are not shifted to other areas of environmental importance and necessary control mechanisms are strengthened.

We call on the Greek government, and the Prime Minister himself, to demonstrate the required ambition and determination and take bold action for living seas for all. 

The announcement is co-signed by the following organisations:

  1. Blue Marine Foundation
  2. Cyclades Preservation Fund
  3. Greenpeace
  4. Hellenic Ornithological Society
  5. iSea
  7. Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute
  8. Thalassa Foundation
  9. WWF Greece

Contact for media:

Christy Sotiriou, Media & PR Manager, WWF Greece, mob. 6947880699, c.sotiriou@wwf.gr

© Kellie Churchman