17,000 signed our petition for the survival of the 27 EC Natura 2000 Protected Areas of Greece in general, and for the protection of the endangered loggerhead sea turtle(Caretta Caretta) on the island of Zakynthos in particular. Thank you very much for your support – your participation showed that it is not only environmental NGOs caring about Greece’s nature, but people all over the world!

With both the nesting period and the tourist season imminent in Laganas Bay, EURONATUR and MEDASSET jointly delivered their 17,000 signature petition with cover letter by hand to the private office of the Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamalis on 10th March, expressing intense concern and indignation not only about the future of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, but also about the other EC “Natura 2000” Protected Areas in Greece.

So far, we have not received any acknowledgement or reply from the Greek government concerning this issue. While the imposition of a heavy fine from the European Court of Justice “knocks at the gates” due to non-implementation of appropriate measures to protect the endangered loggerhead sea turtle on Zakynthos, the Ministry of Environment has finally taken some action and – after more than 6 months - appointed a new President for the National Marine Park of Zakynthos. Even before the new President takes up his appointment controversy rages in the newspapers over his suitability for the position.

Therefore, we would like to continue our campaign and kindly ask you to support us again in this issue. Please copy the e-mail below, sign it and sent it with subject “Zakynthos” to:

Kostas Karamanlis, Prime Minister - info@primeminister.gr
Giorgos Souflias, Mister of Environment, Urban Planning and Public Works - ypourgosde@otenet.gr
Stavros Kalogiannis, Deputy Minister of Environment - grammateia@gryf.minenv.gr
MEDASSET - medasset@medasset.gr
Euronatur - greeknature@euronatur.org


Dear Prime Minister,

The 27 established Protected Areas in Greece constitute part of the European Community Network “Natura 2000”. Unfortunately, the operation of the Protected Areas in Greece is problematic
or non-existent and cannot be considered effective.

In order to express my concern in this particular issue, I participated in the signature campaign that MEDASSET and EURONATUR organised last year, for the protection of Greece’s National Parks
in general and of the loggerhead sea turtles on the island of Zakynthos in particular.

The nomination of a new President of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos is a first step towards the protection of the loggerhead sea turtles during the nesting period and tourist season. Still, in order to ensure the sound protection of the loggerhead sea turtle, immediate measures have to be taken.

These are:

Employment and training of beach guards

Demolition of illegal constructions as outlined in the report of the General Inspectors of Public Administration (GEDD) who visited Zakynthos 21 – 23rd February 2005, and the decision of
the European Court of Justice in case c-103/00.

Relocation of the biological waste treatment plant at present within the boundaries of the ZNMP, which overflows regularly polluting the nesting beaches and the Bay
Re-erection of the National Marine Park Signs around Laganas Bay as well as of signs delineating the boundaries of the Park

Setting of buoys delineating the sea boundaries of the various restricted areas

Erection of adequate barriers to stop vehicle entry to the beaches

Fencing of remaining fragile sand dune areas, and exclusion of access to allow regeneration of the natural flora and fauna

Cleaning of refuse from the beaches and dunes using non-mechanical means throughout the season

Observation and policing of infringements at sea (including the setting up of a Port Police Station in the Bay with sufficient staff to patrol the Bay to ensure compliance with the boat regulations in the Bay)

Setting up of a Police Station within the ZNMP, for the Police to observe and deal with infringements

All of these measures should have been accomplished before the start of the season but so far, nobody - neither local, national nor international authorities – feel responsible to do so.
Apart from this, the wages and salaries of the 2003/4 beach guards and ZNMP staff that are still owed and the overdue social security payments, telephone bills, electricity, and penalties, all owing since 2003 have to be paid to clear the Park of any debts that might affect future operations.

In order to ensure long-term protection of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos as well as of the other 26 “Natura 2000” sites in Greece, the following fundamental needs must be met:

The Greek government must provide long-term political commitment to guarantee yearly funding for all 27 Greek National Parks.

The Greek Government must provide Parks with the legal authority to enforce conservation laws and regulations within the Parks’ boundaries.

The Government must implement a long-term commitment to make all twenty-five National Park Management Bodies viable with immediate effect, including the creation of administrative structures within the government that will enable the Ministry of Environment to support the Parks.

Prime Minister, I again call on you to personally intervene, to ensure the effective operation of the NMPZ and the other 26 “Protected Areas” that together constitute part of our common heritage.