In April and May, the fishermen of Amorgos do some sea cleaning instead, Source: Amorgorama

Why are this Greek island’s fishermen asking the government to declare no-fishing zones?

Why are this Greek island’s fishermen asking the government to declare no-fishing zones?

The fishermen from Amorgos seem to be more sustainably minded than the authorities

Amorgos is one of the Cycladic islands in the Aegean Sea famous for their sunbaked soil and bright white cosy villages, which draw millions of tourists every summer. Most of the visitors are surely also drawn in by the opportunity to eat fresh seafood straight from the source, which allows fishing to be maintained as a solid occupation in the 21st century.

However, the Amorgos fishermen also couldn’t help but notice in the past decade that the catch in their nets was becoming increasingly smaller in quantity, which to them meant that overfishing was afoot. The men took action and began an initiative called “Amorgorama”, which consisted of their voluntary decision to not fish during the months of April and May in order to let the fish recover as this was their prime reproductive season.

Environmental action from the grassroots

Doing this also meant a personal economic sacrifice to the fishermen as they stand to lose about 4,500 euros a year each from their annual income. However, to them, environmental restoration and living responsibly in a way that leaves resources for the future are more important things.

That’s why, in the two months in which they voluntarily decided not to perform their regular work they committed to cleaning up the sea of floating rubbish instead. What’s more, they called on the Greek government to declare certain fishing grounds prohibited from fishing and to officially institute a ban on the activity at a 1.5-mile zone surrounding the island – to be applied in April and May.

Oddly enough, it was the government that didn’t take them seriously. It was only after the fishermen banded together with environmental organizations and the island municipality to enlist researchers from the Agricultural University of Athens to study the issue that the bureaucratic wheels started moving slowly.

Finally, the proposal and the fisheries study have been submitted to the Greek Directorate-General for Fisheries. But there are still administrative steps that have to happen. In the near future, it will be examined by the Fisheries Advisory Council and, if the recommendation is positive, it will end up in the Ministry of Rural Development for the final decision on the matter.

The story of the Amorgos fishermen is a good example of the stronger conscientiousness that common European people often exhibit in terms of sustainable thinking. Something from which policymakers could stand to learn a lesson and accelerate sustainable transition.



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