SOCIETY

Volunteer divers clean up seabed

Professional and amateur divers have enlisted their skills in cleaning up the environment in the Ydronaftes (Hydronauts) initiative, which organizes seabed cleanups at ports and marinas all around the country.

During one of their more recent operations, at the port of Lavrio, southeast of Athens, the volunteers were shocked at the amount and types of trash they found fouling up the sea.

?We found all kinds of plastic items, car batteries, fishing equipment, even a large pot with a palm tree in it, as well as cement benches,? Panayiotis Tasiadamis, head of the Ydronaftes board, told Kathimerini. ?Unfortunately, many people regard the sea as a huge dump in which they can dispose of all their cumbersome garbage. You see, no one really makes a fuss about the mess they create. But the destruction is not just visual, it?s not just about ugly coastlines, but also about the pollution this refuse generates. Meanwhile, discarded fishing nets trap fish and sail cloths can suffocate other marine life,? he added.

Ydronaftes was founded in December 2010 with the aim of conducting organized and safe sea cleanups. Among their various environmental initiatives is the ?Voice of the Deep? public awareness campaign.

?I have been diving for several years and I can see the massive scale of the destruction that is taking place, even in secluded areas,? said Tasiadamis. ?The main causes of this destruction are certain fishing methods such as trawling — which has been prohibited in other European Union countries — and the illegal use of dynamite, which, unfortunately, persists. In some cases, these practices have even changed the morphology of the seabed.?

The Ydronaftes are under no illusion that they are saving Greece?s seas. ?Our actions are mainly symbolic and aimed at raising public awareness. When people watch us dredging up all this disgusting garbage from the sea, they stop seeing the sea as a dump,? added Tasiadamis.

If the Lavrio effort is anything to go by, the group?s message is starting to get through, given the number of non-members who jumped in to help the 40-odd divers, as well as the 200 volunteers who worked on the shore to shift the garbage.

Subsequent actions included a cleanup at the Glyfada marina in southern Athens on Sunday, May 8, and there are plans to visit Pefki on the island of Evia this Sunday, May 15, and Syros on June 12.

For more information visit www.ydronaftes.gr (in Greek only) or call 6978.727.383.