Seas At Risk member MedSOS, together with other environmental NGOs in Greece, has expressed its satisfaction at the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy’s recent important step towards protecting the Natura 2000 site of Kyparissia Bay. However, it now calls for guarantees that the remarkable site will be protected in practice against deterioration.

Coast Greece Marine Protected Area

Kyparissia Bay is the second most important nesting site of the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean, as well as one of the most important sand dune systems in Greece. On 17 October 2018, the Greek government issued a decree giving an institutional and legal protective framework to the Natura 2000 site of Kyparissia Bay, thus protecting it from plans for unregulated coastal development. At the same time, however, the government granted permission for hydrocarbon exploration and extraction in the marine area adjacent to Kyparissia Bay. This raises serious concerns about the extent of the protection afforded to the habitat’s valuable ecological characteristics or to sustainable development of the local community.

To ensure a sufficient level of protection, there is an urgent need for a Management Plan to be prepared and issued for the protective area. The implementation of such a plan will ensure that the illegal activities that continue to degrade the habitat will be addressed, and the needs of the local community taken into account. Any such Management Plan must address several crucial issues: complete mapping of the legal roads in the protected area; beach use rules (duration of stay at the beach, beach zoning, code of conduct, etc.) that will prevent harassment of sea turtles during their highly sensitive reproduction cycle; rules for beach bars operating in the core habitat; fishing regulations; and hunting regulations to protect the area’s bird fauna.

The environmental organisations hope that the legal decision to protect Kyparissia Bay will immediately be followed by the preparation of management measures to effectively protect the area and safeguard the sustainable development of the local community.

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