A recent annual report released by ARCHELON in regards to Zakynthos and her National Marine Park is not impressive. Many violations recorded by the Sea Turtle Protection Society are definitely a cause for alarm. The report itself has been submitted to the European Commission, the Standing Committee of Bern Convention and the Ministry of Environment and Energy.
The purpose of the report was to show, as in previous reports the conservation status of the Νational Μarine Park in 2019. The report shows recording efforts of protection, conservation and education within the National Marine Park of Zakynthos through the field work of ARCHELON.
The report states:-
“ARCHELON has been systematically monitoring the Bay’s nesting beaches since 1984 and records annually nesting activity as well as associated conservation measures. The long-term project of ARCHELON, carried out yearly from early-May through mid-October, involves monitoring of the nesting population on land and at sea, protection of nests and hatchlings, recording of turtle stranding, as well as recording of violations on the nesting beaches and at the marine area. In addition, it includes an extensive public awareness programme to inform visitors and residents.
In 2019, fieldwork on the six nesting beaches of the Bay commenced on 5th of May and terminated on 10th of October. According to preliminary data, on the six nesting beaches of the habitat approx. 1,250 nests (average annual number of nests since the beginning of nest counts in 1984 is about 1,185 nests) and 113,544 violations against the Presidential Decree regulations were recorded. In addition, ARCHELON carried out systematic monitoring of the NMPZ protected marine area.
The MA of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos refers to the beaches of East Laganas and Kalamaki as Kalamaki and Crystal respectively. ARCHELON field observers attended Turtle-Spotting Boats , and tour boats as on-board observers, during which 2,120 violations of the maritime legislation and 3,673 cases of non-compliance with the turtle spotting code of conduct were recorded. Of course ARCHELON personnel reported to both the NMPZ MA and the local Coast Guard major incidents and problems frequently observed in the marine area and on the nesting beaches.
Regarding the recording of turtle stranding, 34 incidents (28 dead and 6 injured) were recorded from the beginning of 2019. Of the total number of stranding, 8 sea turtles were located within the marine protected area of Laganas Bay. Examination of the stranded animals showed interaction with fisheries (fishing gear) as well as signs of injuries caused by boat collision.
Besides the above, ARCHELON conducts a public awareness programme for residents and visitors, to minimize the possible disturbance of the protected animals or their nests. In total ARCHELON carried out during 2019 more than 850 public awareness (PA) shifts, informing approx. more than 62,000 people.”
The report goes on to talk about other violations within the Marine Park such as the proper use of sun beds, pedalos, boats, horse riding and beach users. According to the report, some businesses that use the area, infringed the regulations concerning the nesting beaches and did not apply the terms of the Presidential Decree. Specifically, the foreseen maximum numbers and density of beach furniture, as well as the distances from the back of the beach were not observed. The removal of beach furniture at sundown in some places did not take place or was not done correctly. Throughout the season, ARCHELON recorded 97,171 violations regarding the removal of sun beds. They were either completly left out overnight or folded on their side in areas of Gerakas, Kalamaki and East Laganas. This fact made those parts of the beaches non accessible for turtles and caused them to abandon nesting attempts. A reminder that a female will attempt to lay her eggs only three times. If she does not have the opportunity to do so she will abort.
” In addition in regards to the 6 maximum numbers, ARCHELON project members recorded in mid-August 364 sun beds in Gerakas. Whereas the foreseen amount allocated by the Presidential Decree is only 120. In Kalamaki and East Lagana there was an astronomical amount of sun beds. The amount of sun beds in these areas stood at 945, while the foreseen amount by the Presidential Decree is only 300.”
Whilst the report goes on to talk about other violations our Marine Park suffered, not just to the Marine area but also to the habitat, the recommendations are that of enforcing the law. As stated in the report the following is recommended:-
Recommendations for the terrestrial habitat.
“All competent authorities, including the NMPZ MA, must ensure the law enforcement· (especially regarding beach furniture and beach users). Adequate supervision on a 24-hour basis is absolutely essential.· A permanent and sustainable solution for Daphni beach (point 1, Recommendation No. 9· of Bern Convention) needs to be found (in order to not only prevent any further developments but also remove all the illegal constructions). Light and noise pollution at all nesting beaches of the Bay should be minimized (point 7,· Recommendation No. 9 of Bern Convention). The area of the illegal sanitary landfill must be restored as soon as possible.· The elaboration of a Management Plan, which would include all the specific conservation· measures, should be urgently resumed and strictly enforced.”
Recommendations for the marine area.
“The existing legislation for vessels’ licensing must be amended.· The carrying capacity of the Bay must be studied as soon as possible.· The existing legislation (Presidential Decree and the decision regarding the Turtle-Spotting· Guidelines) must be strictly enforced by the MA and the local Coast Guard. The “Turtle-Spotting Zone” needs to be clearly defined and enforced.· Adequate supervision is absolutely essential specifically in the core zone of the Turtle Spotting activity and in the hot-spots of speeding violations.”
As our environment is of the utmost importance, let’s hope that within the new tourist season of 2020 the laws are imposed properly and that our authorities take heed. Zakynthos is known for her beauty and she is rich in that field in many ways. Zakynthos has sustained itself economically on our environmental well- being and if we continue to take advantage of what she has to offer, the consequences will be devastating. Tourism in general puts enormous stress on our natural habitat and even more pressure on endangered species. The effects can gradually destroy the environmental resources that Zakynthos over the years has come to depend on. A more eco-friendly tourist product will help the industry grow and the potential benefits for both the environment and our economy will greatly increase. After all, just ask one of our many visitors as to why they come to Zakynthos. The answer you will get is purely for her natural and rugged beauty.
For the full report by ARCHELON please click on linkhttps://www.archelon.gr
Zakynthos Informer would like to thank ARCHELON and in particular Anna Lamaj in regards to allowing parts of the report to be used in our blog.