Fishermen on the southeastern Aegean of Kalymnos say they are routinely harassed by Turkish patrol boats and trawlers every time they head for the nearby islet of Imia and other areas, preventing them from making a living.
“In the last few years we were always harassed but we always managed to fish,” the president of the 300-member Coastal Fishermen Association of Kalymnos, Manolis Koullias, told Kathimerini, adding that the Turkish vessels have recently become far more aggressive, entering Greek territorial waters at will.
“We have tried to reach Imia four to five times because it is a good fishing area, especially for bream during this period, but returned due to the aggressive stance of the Turkish vessels,” he said, adding that this occurs even though the area’s fishermen are always accompanied by Hellenic Coast Guard or Navy vessels.
“We are thinking in a calm and rational way. We don’t want to endanger ourselves and our boats or cause problems to our country’s foreign policy… the fishermen of Kalymnos are not the ones that will solve the problem with Turkey,” he said.
Koullias said that these restrictions as to where they can fish are a threat to their livelihoods as they are already feeling the impact of the depletion of fish stocks.
According to the Kalymnos’s fishermen, they are not only having problems around Imia but in other areas as well, such as the nearby islet of Pserimos.
Koullias said that up until 2008, Greeks and Turks would fish together around Imia.
“Our side also made some mistakes but now the opposite side has other plans,” he said.
“In the past [the Turks] would fish in our area with small boats, but in recent years they have been sending bigger fishing vessels accompanied by patrol boats.”