Fisheries have been an activity of vital importance for the communities of the island and coastal regions of Greece for thousands of years. Archeozoological studies have shown that the species of fish caught by the Aegean fishermen 10,000 years ago, are largely the same as the species targeted by small-scale coastal fisheries today.
However, over the past couple of decades, marine resources have become over-exploited, often with the use of destructive practices. If drastic measures are not taken, the fishing industry will face the risk of collapse, with major socio-economic and ecological consequences for the island and coastal communities.
The main reasons for the drastic decrease in fish stocks are overfishing, habitat destruction, increasingly regular use of destructive and illegal fisheries practices, invasive and introduced species, pollution and climate change. The Mediterranean Sea is one of the most overfished bodies of water in the world. According to the European Environment Agency, over 65% of the fish stocks in the area are beyond safe biological limits.
The landings in the Mediterranean have declined by 30% in the last 10 years. Even though stock and landing assessments regarding the Greek seas are limited, Archipelagos research in the eastern Aegean Sea indicated up to 50% decline in landings of small scale fisheries between 2009 and 2011.
As a result of decades of unsustainable national and EU fisheries policies, fishermen are now using larger, faster boats, employing greatly improved methods for finding and catching various species, using longer ranged gear and traveling over larger distances. Despite all this increased effort, fisheries landings keep getting smaller.