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New Monachus Defense Campaign in the Mediterranean Sea

Wednesday, 08 Jun, 2022

This year Sea Shepherd Greece and Sea Shepherd Italia will be joining forces for the first time to launch the Monachus Defense Campaign for the protection of the Mediterranean Monk Seal, Monachus monachus. The campaign has started in Greece and will soon commence in Italy.

Sea Shepherd Greece volunteers on the Emanuel Bronner after an underwater cleanup..

In Greece, the campaign aims to assist local authorities and environmental organizations in their ongoing, coordinated efforts in the protection of the seals. The campaign focuses on the largest marine protected area in Europe, the National Marine Park of Alonissos in the Northern Sporades, Greece.

The national park measures approximately 3000 Km2, and includes the island of Alonissos, parts of the islands Skiathos and Skopelos, six smaller islands (Persistera, Kyra Panagia, Psathoura, Piperi, Skantzoura and Gioura), over 25 little islets and the surrounding waters.

The high biodiversity of the area is unique, and many of the species living in the marine park are rare and protected.

Alonissos National Marine Park in the Northern Sporades, Greece. Photo Vasilis Drosakis.

The park is inhabited by the Mediterranean Monk Seal, which is classified as endangered, and was until recently critically endangered, with almost half of all the remaining population existing in Greek waters. The island of Piperi is the heart of the National Marine Park of Alonissos and has one of the few no-take zones in Greece within a radius of three nautical miles offshore.

Sea Shepherd will be monitoring the area for all threats, especially during the high summer season. Particular focus will be on illegal fishing (especially speargun fishing), uncontrolled sailing in prohibited parts of the area (activities that cause disturbance of the ecosystems) and degradation of the Posidonia seagrass. Sea Shepherd will be cooperating with the Ministry of Environment, the Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency (N.E.C.C.A), the Management Unit of the National Park of Alonissos, the Coast Guard, and other local organisations.

The M/V Emanuel Bronner

The MV Emanuel Bronner was donated to Sea Shepherd by the Dr. Bronner’s organic soap company in 2017, and has previously been used by Sea Shepherd Germany in the Baltic Sea campaigns. Its most successful year was in 2021, when over 400 marine animals were released from illegal fishing gear.

Sea Shepherd Global’s fleet consists of seven large vessels, as well as a number of smaller ones. It is the largest private navy in the world, taking global action to protect the ocean. Sea Shepherd is funded exclusively by private donations, the support of which have kept the ships running.

The Monachus Defense Campaign on Alonissos is funded by Dr. Bronner’s, who donated the ship, as well as by other private donations.

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