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Protecting the “Big Blue” in the heart of the Aegean Sea

June 23, 2023

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Amorgos, a beautiful Cycladic Island in the heart of the Aegean, became the centre of cinematographic attention in the late ‘80s as the place where the movie “Le Grand Bleu” with Jean Reno was filmed. It is a beautiful place, that has maintained its character through the decades, with impressive bays, clear blue waters and ideal diving spots depicting perfectly the beauty and serenity of the sea that the movie wanted to visualise.  

It is this beautiful blue and the life inside it that the small-scale fishers of the island have been trying to protect for the last years though AMORGORAMA.  

 AMORGORAMA is an innovative initiative that was set up in 2015, led by the Amorgos Fishers’ Professional Association, who, through years of continuous efforts and with the support of the local community, have sought and are seeking to adopt a sustainable way of dealing with overfishing in the Aegean and the ever-increasing pollution of the coasts, while envisioning the creation of a protected fishing area on their island. 

Ten years ago the fishers saw that their nets were coming back empty and their daily income was decreasing so they decided to act. They submitted a management plan with the following pillars:  

  1. Abstaining from their fishing activities in April and May
  2. In those months, to use their boats to collect plastic and all kinds of other waste from the island’s most remote areas
  3. voluntarily adopt additional fishing measures, such as changing the mesh size of their nets, to increase the selectivity of their gear
  4. Create three completely no-take zones.

In order to put these measures into action, the fishers partnered with Blue Marine Foundation and Cyclades Preservation Fund, and secured the support of the state through  signing a memorandum of cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture (and Fisheries), The General Secretariat of Island Policy, the Municipality, the two charities and the Agricultural University of Athens.

 

Amorgos now has a fisheries research laboratory where the Agricultural University of Athens is conducting a fisheries study, supported by Blue Marine.  

AMORGORAMA is a unique example of cooperation between fishers, scientists, institutions, civil society, local and national authorities with the common goal of protecting the sea and the people that depend on her. Its success will play a catalytic role in the way we protect the seas in Greece and will be a beacon of inspiration and optimism for other fishing communities in the Aegean. 

Blue Marine is delighted and proud to be part of this unique endeavour, that stems from the heart of the local community, the fishermen themselves, who with a sense of sacrifice and compromise are fighting for the protection of the marine environment and ultimately their livelihood. This work is in line with Blue Marine’s values and mission to safeguard our oceans by highly protecting 30 per cent of the seas and securing sustainable management in the other 70 per cent.  

Find out more in the video below:

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