After months of discussions between all parties, the 26th of September 2022 marked the day that we signed the MEMORANDUM OF COOPERATION for the Amorgorama initiative in Amorgos . State representatives, local authorities, academics, environmental organizations and fishermen themselves came together to plan a strategy for a protected fishing area on the island of Amorgos.
The Memorandum is a statement of long-term commitment from all parties involved, to the steps which we must follow in order to protect and maintain the reproductive capacities of the local marine environment, while also supporting the fishermen in their livelihoods.
One key step in this commitment is the commencement of a quantitative and qualitative assessment by the Athens Agricultural University of the distribution and abundance of fish species in the vital Posidonia meadows. The protection of these habitats for the reproduction of key fish and crustacean species will be closely monitored in the research set to take place over the next year, led by Associate Professor Stefanos Kalogirou. Also to be monitored will be the invading “alien” species who claim usage of these habitats.
The study is funded for the most part by the Blue Marine Foundation (BMF); both Cyclades Preservation Fund (CPF) and the General Secretariat of the Aegean and Island Policy (GGNP) have committed to co-fund it.
The Initiative’s Timeframe
The Amorgorama initiative was begun in 2015 by the Amorgos Professional Fishermen’s Association in an attempt to enshrine a sustainable strategy for dealing with overfishing and pollution of the Aegean seas, while also paving the way for the creation of a marine protected area which would be crucial to upgrading marine stocks and habitats.
In the springs of 2021 and 2022, over 50% of the Association’s professional fishermen chose to refrain from fishing as much as possible during the months of April and May (key breeding months for many species of fish) and instead used their boats to collect plastic and all kinds of other waste from the northern shores and sea of the island.
At the same time, from the beginning of 2022, the fishermen (with the support of the Municipality of Amorgos, the Cyclades Preservation Fund and the Blue Marine Foundation) began a dialogue with the Directorate of Fisheries, which ultimately led to the alliance of many agencies and the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation.
Remarks from the leaders of the Alliance
Michalis Krosman, President of the Fishing Association of Amorgos:
“On behalf of the Professional Fishing Association of Amorgos, I want to express our satisfaction both for the results of the effort so far in cooperation with the Municipality, the CPF, the BMF and the scientific advisor of the initiative, biologist Vangelis Paravas, but also for the upcoming partnership with the Agricultural University.”
Annie Mitropoulou, executive director of the Cyclades Preservation Fund ( CPF):
“From the very start, we have stood with great reverence at the side of the fishermen of Amorgos, who with tremendous effort, patience, perseverance and cooperation defend the sea and their profession. We embrace this effort not only because it will change the life of Amorgos for the better, but because its development and success will play a catalytic role in the way we protect the seas in Greece. It will be a beacon of inspiration and optimism for other fishing communities in the Aegean and elsewhere.”
Angela Lazou Din, representative of Blue Marine Foundation in Greece:
“It is with great joy and emotion that we co-sign the Memorandum of Cooperation today, thus sealing the creation of a strong alliance between the state, the scientific community, civil society and fishermen with the common goal of protecting Amorgos. We are now convinced that with this collaboration we will be able to move forward together in the institutionalization of the protected area and the implementation of a sustainable management plan, which will protect the marine environment while ensuring the well-being of the island’s inhabitants.”
Stefanos Kalogirou, Scientific Manager of the fisheries study and Assistant Professor at the Agricultural University of Athens:
“The initiative of the fishermen of Amorgos is one of the few examples in the Mediterranean where the management starts from the collective and partnership of competent bodies with the memorandum of cooperation being the practical proof. The purpose of this collective effort is to protect the fishing opportunities of small coastal fishermen by demarcating areas of protection and limiting fishing effort. The study, which started on Sunday, September 18, 2022, with the support of the BMF and CPF, but also with the practical (signing of a memorandum of cooperation) support of the Ministry of Fisheries, will follow all the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy and framework directives for the protection of environment.”
Vangelis Paravas, scientific advisor of the initiative:
“The signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation and Shared Vision in Amorgos is a particularly important step for the preservation of marine biodiversity and ensuring the sustainability of small coastal fishing in the Cyclades. The example of Amorgos is perhaps unique in Greece, as it is a truly “bottom-up” initiative of its coastal fishermen, who have managed to forge a common vision for the sea and the shared use and protection of its living resources, such as the catches, together with the local community and the authorities of the island. Civil society, academic institutions, scientists and marine conservation experts are supporters and helpers in this effort. The recognition and practical support of AMORGORAMA by the Ministry of Anti-Corruption in the context of the Memorandum of Cooperation essentially expands this alliance and we expect that it will make a decisive contribution to the protection of Greece’s unique marine environment”.
Attendees at the Signing of the Memorandum
Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Food, Mr. Simos Kedikoglou, the Mayor of Amorgou, Mr. Eleftherios Karaiskos, the president of the Professional Association of Fishermen of Amorgou, Mr. Michalis Krosman, the Assistant Professor at the Laboratory of Applied Hydrobiology of the Department of Animal Production Science Agricultural University of Athens Mr. Stefanos Kalogirou, the Vice Chancellor of Finance, Planning and Development, Associate Professor Mr. Iordanis Chatzipavlidis, the Professor of Agriculture at EPAL Amorgos Mr. Sotirios Tsirpanlis, the Executive Director of the Cyclades Preservation Fund (CPF) Ms. Annie Mitropoulou and the Representative of the Blue Marine Foundation in Greece Ms. Angela Lazu Dean.
See the Press Release published by the Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Food, responsible for fisheries here.
See the Press Release published by the Mayor of Amorgos here.
More information about Amorgorama can be found at this link: https://amorgorama.com/el/