The planned military exercise by land units of the army during the period between the 24th January and 10th February inst., in the NW Chios island (Melanios region), eastern Aegean Sea, which is conducted with live ammunition “exclusively and strictly in a marine area” (!), insults any meaning of environmental caretaking and countermands the declarations made by Military Command concerning the safeguard of natural habitats and public health during the conduct of military maneuvers by the Armed Forces.

“Archipelagos” Institute of Marine Conservation, underlines that the military exercise, conducted in an uncharted firing range, (lacking the prescribed specifications and relevant permits), and exclusively targeting a coastal marine area, is in breach of Greek and European legislation and the International Treatises by which Greece has bound itself for the protection of marine species and habitats – while also being in complete conflict with any notion of protection for marine environments; for the biodiversity of productive coastal marine habitats; for public health; and goes against any assurance of sustaining the viability of local fishing.

The use of ground artillery with live ordnance salvos directed at and hitting sensitive coastal marine habitats create incalculable repercussions both for the marine environment and public health. The depletion of toxic substances and heavy metals, contained even in so called “clean” conventional ammunition, bio-accumulate in the food chain and indirectly endanger the health of both local human communities and marine species.

In addition, the subject military exercise threatens to destroy the most productive fishing field of Chios Island, which constitutes a substantial source for the local economy. Diligence in this matter is required and expected considering the irreversible impact that years of military exercises has had on the previous firing range situated along the southern coast of Chios – it is established that to this day there is no reversal in the total destruction of marine life and disappearance of fish stocks. This is all taking place amidst the scientifically documented vertical reduction and degradation of the Aegean fish stocks and the ensuing and increasing desperation of professionals dependent on Greek fisheries.

The Ministry of National Defense has been showing for years a lack of action on the issue of charting and creating a modern day firing range on Chios island which, would observe all the security specifications and the environmental rules while simultaneously catering to the training, the maintaining and the combat readiness of the Armed Forces. This inaction by the Ministry should not cause, under any circumstance, a threat to public safety and the total destruction of rare marine habitats.

Based on the above, immediate action must be taken to cancel the particular military maneuver. If not, and in opposition, the Institute of Marine Conservation “Archipelagos” will make use of all available legal means provided by Greek legislation, European legislation, and international treatises to take legal action against all and any responsible entities.