How are fishermen and marine life impacted by their interaction? Is there enough data to shape solutions that will lead to the protection of both coastal fishing and unique marine species? What measures need to be put into place in order to build a future of harmonious coexistence? These are the questions to be answered by the new programme we started in July 2020, in cooperation with Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Laboratory of Ichthyology of the School of Biology), the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (Institute of Marine Biological Resources and Inland Waters), and with the assistance of other bodies specialised in marine species.
Small scale fisherman fixing his nets in his hut at Maistro harbour (Alexandroupoli). The characteristic large hole (called “delfinies”) and the tears attributed to interactions with dolphins.
This research programme, titled 'Addressing the interaction between small scale fishing and marine megafauna in Greece’ (INCA), aims to collect scientific data at the national level in order to estimate and document the amount of income lost by small scale fishermen due to the destruction of fishing gear and catch loss caused by the interaction with marine species. At the same time, it aims to measure the extent of incidental catches and mortality of marine species (cetaceans, Mediterranean seals, sea turtles, sea birds, sharks, and rays). The final goal is to gather robust scientific data based on which the competent authorities and involved agencies can develop, establish and implement the appropriate management, financial, and technical measures to limit and address the impact of the interaction between small scale fishing and marine species.
In recent years, based on only a few studies that have taken place in Greece, the interaction and conflict between marine species and small scale fishing is an existing and especially complicated phenomenon with negative consequences for both sides. Limiting and resolving a problem as complicated as the interaction of marine wildlife and fishing requires a systematic, integrated, and holistic approach. The regulations, measures, and actions required must aim at various sectors (fisheries management, species and habitat protection, establishment/organization of administrative structures, finding and provision of necessary resources, etc.) and require the collaboration of the competent agencies of the state and other relevant stakeholders.
Our permanent target being the effective protection of marine biodiversity in Greece, and having the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature as our vision, we recognise the problem from its both sides;the immediate impact on the income and way of life of fishermen, as well as the pressures to marine biodiversity . Since 2006, in partnership with other national agencies, we have been active in a series of fields and taken key initiatives, such as the promotion of sustainable fishing practices in the Northern Cyclades through the ‘Transforming small scale-fisheries in the Mediterranean’ programme, and we have proposed solutions towards the improvement of human- marine wildlife coexistence, such as through the creation of a national financial compensation system for small scale fisheries.