Marine industrial aquaculture, Greece

Aquaculture barons vs protected areas and local communities in coastal and marine areas of Greece


Over the last 25 years, aquaculture has emerged as an increasingly important primary industry in Greece in terms of capital investment and production. Today, Greece is among the major marine finfish aquaculture producers in the European Union. The two main species cultivated in Greece are gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata) and European sea bass (Dicentrachus labrax). The Greek production represents the 60 % of the total EEC production and almost half of the global output [1, 2].

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Basic Data
NameMarine industrial aquaculture, Greece
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific CommoditiesFish
Project Details and Actors
Project Details100,000 metric tons at present and if project finances full capacity of the proposed plan based on information from the relevant ministerial decree of 2011 and the legislation of 2014 this figure could go up 4 times more on the basis of the size of the geographical area. The project is an association of government backed enterprises both financially and in several other ways such as legal assistance, free consulting services offered and so on. Participation is not by an official legal binding contract it is voluntary on a care for the similar ones like you basis. It involves, groups of small private companies, private fish production companies of various amounts of employee and financial turnover, small private aquaculturalists and related people. Essentially almost anyone involved in aquaculture production at sea is inside including scientists in research institutions, members of government and related people.The amount of money invested in the project is estimated in several billions so far . This comes from private investment,Greek goverment funds, European Union funds ,stock market proccesses and especially the 2003 greek stock market collapse that led to money of small and medium investors to be lost and given to companies including aquaculture , loans from banks including the former agricultural bank of Greece(now part of Pireus Bank). What is noteworthy is that apparently the industry owes a lot of money in loans it has not repaid to goverment and banks. Several million people are at present affected as the project involves 3/4 of coastal Greece(marine and land area) and this does not only include direct use such as recreation but also other non direct use such as wild fish eaten by people of urban areas whose spawning sites are targeted for conversion to aquaculture farms. This becomes more apparent when the fact that the more accessible areas by man are targeted for conversion to aquaculture farms.
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date02/08/2002
Relevant government actorsMinisters of relevant ministries and local goverments at all levels
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Commission (EC) - EC provides subsidies for large scale aquaculture
Environmental justice organisations and other supporterslocal goverments at various levels, scientists, policy makers
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationMedia based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Other Environmental impacts, Genetic contamination, Waste overflow
OtherMarine water contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts
OtherSkin inflamations of people swimming in waters close or at a distance of several kilometers to aquaculture units
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
OtherLoss of marine space use and natural resource extraction of marine products by traditional communities
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Development of AlternativesManage and restore natural ecosystems sustainably, respect local communities, focus on low impact sustainable forms of tourism as means of development. Focus on land agriculture and the production of biological eco friendly products instead. Local authorities and non governmental organizations make these suggestions as well as local people coalitions
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The crisis is deepening at an increasing rate, the aquaculture interests are backed by the government and local communities and relevant non governmental organizations are increasing their efforts against the advancement. The Ministerial decree of 2011 was approved by the higher court known as the council of state recently. It was not announced anywhere even on mainstream government websites that normally should do this. The 2014 legislation is still present also. The local authorities are being chosen by the state to act as representatives in the debate, but such an important issue that will determine spatial planning and use rights in the entire coastal zone should include local non governmental organizations, representatives of various social, ethnic and religious groups and the right for individual opinions to be heard.

In the picture above:

Within the core of the GR2220003 Inner Ionian Archipelago marine protected area are the Islands of Kalamos and Kastos. Their inhabitants protested strongly in 2013 following failed political attempts to waive the legal characterization of their waters and some of their lands (including protected Mediterranean pine forest on land) as an area for the development of industrial aquaculture made possible by the 2011 ministerial decree. Here is a photo of that protest for the only aquaculture unit in their waters that exists. The areas close to this and inside the marine protected area have a very high density of fish farms with almost 30% of the total production of raw fish in Greece and in direct violation of several pieces of international legislation and treaties with respect to biodiversity conservation and human rights.
Sources and Materials

The 2011 ministerial decree for aquaculture advancement, it was made into a full and more detailed legislation in 2014
[click to view]

A map of the legislation of 2011
[click to view]

[1] European Union (2012): Facts and figures on the Common Fisheries policy, Basic statistical data. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 52 pp.


The panhellenic coalition of goverment and non goverment organizations of areas where people are having their interests compromised by aquaculture advancement(in Greek) Includes pieces of legislation and maps( all in Greek)
[click to view]

The news blog of terra sylvestris, a non govermental organization based in Greece focusing on environmental protection and sustainable development. The organization is based in Kalamos Island ,Ionian sea in one of the hotspots for the aquaculture crisis
[click to view]

The official page of local coalition of the people of Kalamos and Kastos islands against aquaculture advancement in their area in Western Greece
[click to view]

[2] McKinsey & Company (2011): Greece 10 Years Ahead

[4] Environmental NGOs’ comments on the draft JMD "Special Framework for Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development of Aquaculture " and the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment, 2011
[click to view]

Other Documents

Protesting against the advancement of aquaculture in the marine area of Kalamos Island western Greece Within the core of the GR2220003 Inner Ionian Archipelago marine protected area are the Islands of Kalamos and Kastos. Their inhabitants protested strongly in 2013 following failed political attempts to waive the legal characterization of their waters and some of their lands as an area for the development of industrial aquaculture made possible by the 2011 ministerial decree. Here is a photo of that protest for the only aquaculture unit in their waters that exists.
[click to view]

Other CommentsI reported about this issue being myself an ecological scientist.

I'm also concerned because there are no standards for the environmental impact assessment. More specifically both me and other organizations have seen the impact studies where there is no quantitative assessment of several parameters like risk of fish escaping from cages, where pollutants will go, how far will they travel, what are the potential impacts on the environment and wildlife and so on. They just lay out what will happen and then lay the opinions of the scientists doing the studies as the impact assessment. National legislation does not ask for these things and it is up to local authorities (prefecture) to say yes or no to a new farm or expansion of an old one. The European union is sending money for these farms in various ways and these things that I laid above go unnoticed. It is not just local societies that react but also ecologists, biologists and related non governmental organizations.

For english there is almost no international coverage other than the terra sylvestris blogspot that publishes information in English as well as Greek.
Meta Information
ContributorTheodore Karfakis, Terra Sylvestris non govermental organization , email:[email protected]
Last update19/09/2015