During the past days, ‘packs’ of Turkish fishing boats, namely bottom trawlers, have been sailing off at dawn from the Turkish coast, entering Greek waters, and fishing illegally therein , even at distances of 100 meters from the shores of Greek eastern Aegean islands such as Samos, Agathonisi , Lipsi, Leros and Kalymnos.
Earlier today, the crew of one of the boats of the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation located 6 Turkish trawlers fishing near the shores of Leros island. Along with its research activity in the waters of the region, Archipelagos Institute has spent many years closely monitoring cases of all types of destructive fishing in the Greek Seas
It is noteworthy that some of the Turkish fishing boats involved in the incident had changed their flag while at sea and they were sailing not under the Turkish, but under the Greek flag. Immediately, as is always the case, the researchers of Archipelagos Institute informed the competent port authority on the occurrence, and received in response that no intervention was possible and that the only action to be undertaken would be a notification addressed to the superior authority.
The verification of the fishing vessels’ data revealed that only 2 of the 6 Turkish trawlers had their Automatic Identification System (AIS) in operation. It is noteworthy that, once again, our mere presence at the scene in order to record data and acquire footage of the incident, was enough to rush all 6 Turkish boats to flee. Before their departure, however, one of the trawlers advanced threateningly towards us and a near collision, due to its dangerous handling, was barely avoided.
Greece is, unfortunately, presenting a dangerously fragile image, shortly after the peak of the holiday season, by demonstrating sheer inability to prevent destructive and illegal fishing activities and absolute unpreparedness to defend its national waters. In addition, all of this is happening in areas where, at the same time, the country is mobilizing a large fleet and modern equipment to repel boats with women, children and other less fortunate individuals who are seeking safety.
The actions of these Turkish trawlers prove their existing awareness of the perpetual inefficiency of the Greek State and the consequent weakness of the Greek port authorities in dealing with such incidents, which are now becoming more frequent.
We must emphasize that the stance of the Archipelagos Institute οf Marine Conservation, is not nationalistic, focus on the protection of our marine environment and its resources. As people who have lived on the eastern borders of Greece for decades, we experience, along with the local communities, great insecurity as to whether the state is really able to safeguard the vital interests and resources of our country.