Greece to launch two new marine parks

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Greece, hosts of this year’s global conference on protecting oceans, will launch two new marine parks as part of multi-billion-euro pledges expected from 120 participating states and entities.

According to courthousenews.gr, 12 heads of state, around 50 ministers and officials, and representatives from 120 nations and entities, including the U.N., EU and NATO are among the delegates that will be present at Our Ocean conference, which will take place on April 15-17.

“This is the biggest environment conference ever held (in Greece),” Environment and Energy Minister Theodoros Skylakakis stated.

According to Mr.Skylakakis, Athens’ commitments are two new national parks — one in the Ionian Sea for sea mammals and turtles, and another in the Aegean for seabirds, to be set into law by early next year. 

“They will be among the largest in the Mediterranean,” he said. Greece has been repeatedly fined by the European Commission on environmental matters in the past decades.

In December, it was referred to the EU court of justice for failing to implement maritime spatial planning guidelines. In a statement on Monday, nine environmental groups including WWF and Greenpeace hailed the new parks announcement as an “important initiative.”

But they noted that the Ionian Sea park is to be created in an area already earmarked by Greece for hydrocarbon exploration.

“There can be no protected maritime area with hydrocarbon extraction,” the groups said.

Skylakakis said the park under consideration is “much, much larger than any extraction area. Sea mammals will be afforded a very high level of protection,” he said.

According to Mr. Skylalakis, Greece will emphasize this year on sustainable tourism, microplastics, eco-friendly shipping and the Mediterranean environment.

“Each of us, especially those in coastal areas, swallows the equivalent of a plastic card each week,” Gerapetritis said, about the amount of microplastics in fish. “And also through salt,” added Skylakakis.

Source: courthousenews.gr

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