Northern Sporades - Alonnisos

Maritime National Park for the Monk seals

© Annette Spangenberg
Monk Seal cave in the National Marine Park of the Sporades © Annette Spangenberg

The largest monk seal colony in the Mediterranean has managed to hold its ground in the National Marine Park of the Northern Sporades. The many scattered larger and smaller islands of the Sporades archipelago provide a habitat for numerous plant and animal species. Since the area was designated a National Marine Park in 1992 the population of these marine mammals has stabilised there. Among other influences this has also been to the credit of the coastal fishermen who have kept to the strict regulations and reported infringements. Despite the cooperation of the coastal fishermen the population of the Mediterranean seal remained seriously threatened. For years, namely, there was no management of the protected area with the authority to act and to secure a constant surveillance of the core areas of the National Park. As a result several times a year larger fishing fleets entered the park and fished whole sections empty in a few hours.


Park mangement finally set up

It took persistent public pressure by EuroNatur and its Greek partner organisation to persuade the Greek government in mid-2007 to take over the permanent state financing of the National Marine Park. This made it at last possible to set up park management on the island of Alonnisos which was an important precondition for working out wide-ranging management concepts and protective measures. The goal of guiding the project into independence has thus been achieved.


Achievements in detail – a selection of important successes:

  • When EuroNatur began its work in Greece at the beginning of the 1990s the National Marine Park of the Northern Sporades only existed in a provisional form. Working with our Greek partners we were able get agreement for the statutory foundation of the National Park.
  • Years of lobbying finally persuaded the Greek government to agree to a long-term financing concept for the National Park and set up National Park management with the authority to act. 
  • Working with our partners we have developed measures for creating additional sources of income for the coastal fisherman, e.g. sustainable tourism. 
  • With awareness-raising activities and education about the environment we have made progress in winning the local people over to the idea of protecting the monk seal. Among other things we developed teaching material on the monk seal and the ecosytem of the Mediterranean which has been adopted in Greek schools.

Partner: Ecological and Cultural Movement of Alonnisos (ECMA)

Sponsors: Fondation pour les Animaux du Monde, Vaduz/Liechtenstein. EuroNatur donors and sponsors

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Portrait of the monk seal

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Mysterious and threatened: the Mediterranean monk seal is among the rarest of mammals in Europe. We want to secure the last surviving population of these endearing sea mammals.

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