Journey to Ithaca: A massive clean-up operation

'The biggest ever clean-up operation in Greece and one of the biggest in Europe'

From the 8th to until the 16th of June an amazing operation took place at the island of Ithaca. A big coalition of organisations and stakeholders, led by the Ithacian activist George Lilas and by the NGOs Healthy Seas, Ghost Diving and Enaleia took up the task of cleaning up an abandoned fish farm at the south east side of Ithaca.

The operation was centered at what -until a decade ago- was the premises of a big fish farm business, which ended up bankrupt and dangerously abandoned. As you can read in the official press release, which was published after the action, “The company that had gone bankrupt in 2012 had left behind fish farm cages and other equipment that polluted the area endangering the local community, marine life as well as maritime traffic. In September 2020, Ianos, a rare hurricane-like storm caused the tons of industrial type of plastic pipes, fishing nets, nylon ropes, concrete blocks, plastic buoys, large rusty metal pieces and all kinds of waste to be carried away, later to be found floating on the surface of the sea, laying on the seabed and on the beaches”.

The Ionian Environment Foundation supported the action with a financial contribution and also by recruiting a few volunteers to join the action and helping in practice. Eventually we got four pairs of hands helped for many days from the beginning until the end of the action. It was a great experience for all of us!

The results

  • Over 76 tonnes of waste were removed from the sea and the beaches.
  • 20 divers and more than 25 volunteers helped in the clean-up operations.
  • 76.070 Kg of collected marine waste (of which 43.960 Kg was plastic) from the bottom of the sea and the coastline
  • All the metals, the nets, the styrofoam and the hard plastic that was collected is to be recycled; the vast majority of the rest of the materials too.
  • Two bays and three beaches and of course much of the seabed were suffering from pollution by all these materials for a decade. Now they are almost totally clean and starting to look like healthy nature again.
  • Statistically, the IEF’s financial support is estimated to have collected 3,500 kgs of materials during the clean-up and to have contributed to generating social value of € 73,902 with the rate of the Social Return on the Investment being 9,92 for every 1€ spent*.


Apart from these superb quantitative results, there is one that is hugely important for the work we do. That is the collaboration of many actors and stakeholders. Collaboration of many actors is usually a difficult feat in Greece and often impossible. In this case at least twelve NGOs and public stakeholders collaborated in some capacity to make this project happen. That is certainly an example to follow and we were glad we were part of it!

More photos can be viewed and downloaded here: TO SHARE – Dropbox

To see more of this effort from beginning to end, watch this ten minute video: Action video – Dropbox


*Based on the source: