The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) expressed concern over the marine environment and marine life populations in a report published on the anniversary since the sinking of the tanker “Agia Zoni”, which caused a major oil spill in the Saronic coast.
“The oil spill, which was recorded as the second largest oil spill in the world for 2017, made the oil nightmare a reality,” said Theodora Nantsou, head of WWF policy, and Dimitris Ibrahim, WWF Hellas, head of WWF maritime policy, said in a report.
“On September 18, we filed a lawsuit against every person responsible for breaching environmental protection laws, asking – for the first time in Greek history – that criminal charges be pressed,” the report said.
WWF researchers said that the cleaning operation was fortunately successful, according to the data from the Hellenic Center for Marine Research but “the investigation for pressing charges and hold those responsible to account has yet to be completed. The plans for hydrocarbons exploration in the Greek seas are progressing rapidly. In some areas (Katakolo) these projects are so advanced, based on the timetables of the company, the first drilling is expected in 2019.”
“The marine area allocated to petroleum companies for exploration and extraction of oil and/or gas cover almost 60,000 square kilometers, extending from the north of Corfu, covering almost the whole of the Ionian Sea and reaching to the west and southwest Crete. Most of us are well acquainted with this region, its waters, islands and coasts. We have admired its beauties either as tourists, visitors or inhabitants: these seas are home – among other things – to whales, dolphins, turtles, Mediterranean seals and corals. All these unique species are not just an impressive natural wealth, but an indicator that our sea is healthy and is the backbone of our economy.”
The businesses eyeing these regions naturally have little interest in this. The same companies have, in any case, sought to extract oil in the Arctic and the Amazon. They will cite their long experience in similar projects, complying with environmental legislation and using the most advanced technology. The truth, however, is different for three main reasons.
Firstly, the waters of the Ionian and Crete are open deep sea (the deepest point of the Mediterranean lies in the southwest of Pylos and exceeds 5,000 meters), making research and extraction extremely dangerous. Second, companies operating in the region have a history of oil pollution, lack of transparency and/or corruption. Thirdly, oil extraction is incompatible with (sustainable) tourism development, the biggest source of income for the country.”