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Greece: Government bans bottom trawl fishing but keeps oil drilling in marine protected areas

Added 2024-04-17


At the 9th instalment of the Our Ocean international series of Conferences (OOC), taking place in Athens Greek PM Mitsotakis announced a ban on the particularly destructive fishing method of bottom trawling from 2026 in all Greek marine protected areas, Greece thus becoming the first European country to ban bottom trawling. Anti-Oil extraction groups, that tried to stage a protest outside the conference hall on April 16 before the protest was banned by the police, condemned the trawling-ban as hypocritical given the ongoing (government support for) oil drilling in the Hellenic Trench, a key protected area for marine mammals of the Mediterannean, including seals, turtles, dolphins, sharks and whales. The pro-development, conservative government (voted in with a large majority at the end of the Greek financial crisis in 2019 and reelected in 2023) has recently been criticised by most of the country's major environmental NGOs for encouraging more coastal development near the shoreline through legislation changes. The Our Ocean Conference series (OOC) was initiated by the U.S. Department of State under John Kerry in 2014 and some observers believe its staging in Athens was a reward for the Mitsotakis' administration close cooperation with the United States government in various conflicts including Ukraine. There are indications that there are some hydrocarbon deposits in the Ionian and southeast of Crete that may be worth exploiting but beyond the obvious dangers to wildlife, tourism and fisheries, oil extraction also risks a military confrontation with Turkey.