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27-09-2021

Preliminary results of scientific activities at abandoned fish farm in Greece

Healthy Seas

United Nations / Ocean Science & Technology / Ocean Policy & Sustainable Development / Business & Industry / Donors & Foundations

How ghost nets are damaging Posidonia seagrass

In June 2021, Healthy Seas together with many partners, carried out its biggest cleanup to date. 

In 8 days, the team removed 76 tons of litter of an abandoned fish farm, from the seabed and coast of the Greek island Ithaca. Through this project, Healthy Seas was able to not only make the environment healthier but also help the local community by turning a place forsaken for almost a decade, into paradise. 

Marine biologist Erik Wurz (https://www.wur.nl/nl/personen/erik-e-erik-wurz-msc.htm), working for Wageningen University and member of the Ghost Diving team, conducted scientific research to assess the interaction of the nets with the marine environment by performing seabed surveys in multiple locations in close proximity to the cleanup site. The entire project was documented through photos and videos. 

The preliminary results from the study showed that abandoned fish farms in shallow-water habitats are damaging Posidonia seagrass ecosystems by destroying the plants, providing settlement grounds for invasive seagrass species competing for space and nutrients, and contributing to the mortality of Pinna nobilis. These two species are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and are protected under European Habitat Directive (1992). 

Results will become available in a scientific study soon. With the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development having kicked off in 2021, Healthy Seas is eager to contribute through its activities toward strengthening the sustainable management of the oceans for the benefit of the planet and humanity.

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