Greek fishermen approve a marine sanctuary

11 July 2014 | Article

Dedicated marine conservationist and IUCN Ambassador, Pierre-Yves Cousteau is founder of Cousteau Divers, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the marine world. Cousteau Divers is behind the move to create a marine sanctuary in waters off the Greek Island of Santorini which is gaining broad support from the community.

Earlier this year the professional fishermen of Santorini gave their unanimous approval for the creation of a marine protected area which will help safeguard fish stocks and their future livelihood.

After several years of discussions and consensus building with the local stakeholders, this agreement is the first step in the establishment of a sanctuary on Santorini.


© Cousteau Divers

The fishermen’s union, the municipality, and the Hellenic marine research center (HCMR) will now form a trilateral committee for the management of the area.

The next steps involve obtaining a legal protection framework for the area, devising a monitoring and enforcement strategy, and communicating the project to the local population as well as to visitors.

Cousteau Divers, with the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation are supervising the project which began in 2011, employing the services of HCMR to conduct baseline research on Santorini’s ecosystems and the expertise of Submon (from the successful Medes Islands sanctuary in Spain) to create a management plan for the area.

A well-managed, well-protected marine sanctuary could generate substantial economic benefits for Santorini, extending the tourist season beyond the summer months and creating jobs, as well helping fish stocks replenish which will ensure the livelihoods of fishing communities.

As part of Cousteau Divers’ efforts to empower citizens to study and protect marine life worldwide, a toolbox has been developed to help guide anyone through the process of establishing a marine protected area within their own community.

Pierre-Yves Cousteau is one of the champions of the IUCN World Parks Congress taking place in November in Sydney.