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.
Over the past couple of decades, however, marine resources have been over-exploited, often due to destructive practices. If drastic measures are not taken, the fishing industry faces the risk of collapse, which would have major socio-economic and ecological consequences for Greece's island and coastal communities.
The primary causes of the drastic declines in fish stocks are overfishing, habitat destruction, the increasingly common use of destructive and illegal techniques, pollution, and climate change. The Mediterranean Sea is among the most overfished bodies of water in the world. According to the European Environment Agency, over 65% of the region's fish stocks are below the safe ecological limits
Catch levels in the Mediterranean have declined by 30% in the last 10 years. Although stock and catch assessments regarding the Greek seas are limited, research from Archipelagos in the eastern Aegean Sea has indicated a decline of up to 50% in catch levels of small-scale fisheries just between 2009 and 20111.
As a result of decades of unsustainable national and EU fishing policies, fisherman are now using larger and faster boats, employing greatly improved methods for finding and catching various species, using longer-ranged equipment, and traveling over larger distances. Despite all this increased effort, small-fishery catch levels continue to decline.