In May 2022, the Monk Seal Alliance addressed a letter to the Greek Minister of Environment and Energy, H.E. Mr. Skrekas, with support from the Ionian Environment Foundation, 11 other Greek environmental organisations and scientific experts working on the conservation of the Mediterranean monk seal. The letter was urging the Greek government to implement the necessary measures to regulate tourism activities and ensure the conservation of the species and its habitat.
Although the Greek government has taken major commitments to protect Monachus monachus, notably through the imminent enactment of management plans for Natura 2000 areas designated throughout Greece as well as the currently ongoing adoption of a National Action Plan for the species, their actual implementation in the field can take years, considering the human and material resources needed for this. In the meantime, growing anthropogenic pressures are an increasing threat to the species.
In his response to the Monk Seal Alliance’s appeal, the Minister for Environment, Mr. Skrekas informs us that a “Ministerial Decision with urgent temporary protection management measures” will be applied in one of the areas under tourism pressure in the Inner Ionian Sea Archipelagos (NATURA 2000 code GR2220003) “to cover the time period until the finalization of the Special Environmental Studies of the Natura 2000 process and the issuance of the subsequent Presidential Decree for the permanent protection status of the area.”
The Minister also ensures us that the 6-year National Action Plan for the Mediterranean monk seal in Greece will be adopted by Ministerial Decision soon, while the first positive steps have already been made to create a simplified framework for the licensing and operation of Wildlife Care Centres and First Aid Stations, where wounded or abandoned pups may be rehabilitated.
We applaud the efforts of the Greek government and will remain attentive to the concrete conservation and management measures that will be effectively put in place. This outcome is an important example of how local advocacy and agency, particularly when actions are united, can succeed in informing environmental policy and in the promotion of conservation in Greece.