NEWS

Fishermen back no-go areas

As fish populations in the Mediterranean continue to dwindle, fishermen said yesterday that they are prepared to adopt a proposal put forth by environmentalist group Greenpeace to create marine reserves in a bid to help protect the sea environment and their jobs. Dimitris Zannes, president of the Professional Fishermen’s Federation in the Southern Aegean, said yesterday that they want to ban fishing in 32 parts of the Mediterranean’s international waters, in line with the proposal put forth by Greenpeace. «We are close to collapse. The fish we catch are getting smaller,» Zannes said, whose federation represents 2,000 offshore fisherman in the Cyclades. «This can go no further. We know that we will only continue to exist if we build a healthy ecosystem,» Zannes added. Greenpeace has proposed that 40 percent of the Mediterranean’s international waters be made off-limits, offering fish a refuge from fishermen. «Today the protected areas in the Mediterranean are less than 1 percent of the sea. Much less than the 20 to 50 percent that is recommended by scientists,» said Greenpeace’s Sofia Tsenikli, who oversees the campaign concerning the marine environment. The scheme is said to have worked in the Red Sea, where fishing on the edge of the marine reserves produced up to 60 percent more fish within a few years of the measure being implemented. Experts said that overfishing and pollution have taken a large toll on the Mediterranean’s sea environment. Apart from industrial and city waste, some 55,000 tons of petrol are believed to have ended up in the Mediterranean in the last 15 years due to accidents at sea.