Living in the current negative climate, we often forget that we live in one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation strives to accomplish its goals to promote and protect the rare biodiversity of our seas, in spite of this current economic and political climate.
Archipelagos Institute endeavors to protect, promote and provide sensible management of the rare wealth in the Greek Seas, particularly the Aegean Sea. The organization utilizes the knowledge of scientists and researchers, as well as the talents of multidisciplinary volunteers, who travel from various parts of the world to become a part of the Institute’s research team. Universities from both Greece and other countries provide invaluable help by providing modern technology and expertise.
Since mid-October of this year, Archipelagos Institute has conducted a research expedition in the NE Aegean Sea. The purpose of this expedition is to conduct multilevel research in coastal and open sea ecosystems of the region, in particularly focusing on the following areas:
- Biological mapping and the creation of digital maps that illustrate areas covered by productive marine ecosystems, such as sea grass meadows and coralligenous reefs, which require immediate protection. The information displayed by these maps is closely linked to the productivity of fisheries and the conservation of the marine environment.
- Systematic measurement of physicochemical characteristics in the water column at depths up to 150 meters.
- Recording of protected species populations, particularly marine mammals and birds.
Despite severe weather conditions, the research team takes advantage of every day and hour in which field studies can be conducted. The main objective is to collect accurate scientific data which can be used to map trends in current fisheries production. According to evidence thus far, a decline in fisheries production have been attributed to a combination of anthropogenic factors, including overfishing, the introduction of invasive species, rise of global temperature, among others.
The long-term goal of this research is to find a sustainable solution, involving local management actions and a set of realistic and immediate workable measures. The collected results are then published to the local communities, authorities and organisations of the islands, as well as international bodies such as the General Directorate of Fisheries of the EU and the Environmental Programme of UN (UNEP / MAP – RAC / SPA).
The research expedition of Archipelagos Institute is operated at low cost by using an appropriately configured sailing vessel. The vessel uses a combination of both wind and biodiesel, which is produced by the scientific team using recycled cooking oil from small islands. By reducing costs of the vessel, Archipelagos Institute is able to conduct research expeditions throughout the year. The message of the Institute remains lasting, as research expeditions continue despite difficult economic conditions, until the successful management of environmental resources is accomplished.
The crew of the expedition in the NE Aegean Seaconsists of a multinational team of researchers from various disciplines (oceanographers, marine biologists, GIS analysts) and students who, apart from Greece, come from the U.S., Great Britain, Luxembourg, Turkey, China and Ethiopia.
Despite difficult weather conditions, the researchers work intently on their projects for more than two months utilizing their knowledge, expertise, experience and advanced scientific instruments. Researchers collaborate closely with the Institute’s support team in Samos Island.
The research team offers environmental education lessons in schools, including the kindergartens, primary, secondary and naval schools, of Oinousses, in spite of its heavy workload during the mission. The group also participates in organized informative meetings with the local authorities as well as other organizations.
The local community, authorities, as well as the Development Centre of the Oinousses island complex, supports the actions of the Archipelagos Institute. The organization has exhibited an unprecedented dynamism, as the results of the research expeditions record a unique wealth of the island’s marine ecosystems.
We must protect the long-term sustainability of this natural wealth and prevent it from being casually sold!
There are resources, there is hope, there are people, and there are visions. We have to be worthy of the natural wealth that we borrowed from the future generations.
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