Northern Sporades conservation area – continued

Published by: Thomas Schultze-Westrum

part two

It follows my second letter to Mr. Yeroulanos; see copy of first page in part one


Dr. Thomas Schultze-Westrum   Kaisertsr. 52     8000 München 40

Marine National Park Project NORTHERN SPORADES


Status Report December 1976 prepared for:

Mr. Marinos Yeroulanos

Executive Secretary

National Council for

Physical Planning and Environment

Ministry of Coordination,

Athens

For reference see my letter dated 6 October 1976

Correspondence on the project included letters from IUCN (Mr. R. Allen – Marine Programme; Prof. Dr. K. Ronald and Dr. D.E. Sergeant – Seal Group SSC); UNEP (Dr. Kai Curry – Lindahl); Fauna and Flora Preservation Society (Mrs. M.S. Fitter and Mr. R.S.R. Fitter); Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature (Mr. Byron Antipas).

Meetings in Greece during my latest visit from December 10th to 19th:

Mrs. Niki Goulandris (Natural History Museum Goulandreum), Mr. Marinos Yeroulanos and Mr. Byron Antipas on Dec. 18th;

Mr. Antipas at several occasions;

Mr. Jannis Florous (from Alonnisos – representative of the fishermen of the islands concerned) at several occasions;

Mr. Antipas and Mr. Florous on Dec. 14th;

Mrs Goulandris and Mr. Florous on Dec. 18th;

Mr. Yeroulanos, Mr. Antipas and Mr. Florous (after my departure).

A field trip by helicopter to the islands was organized for Dec. 15th, with landings on Skiathos, Alonnisos and Piperi, for Mrs. Goulandris, DDr. Manfred Lindner (Natural History Society of Nürnberg) and myself.

Filming the habitat of Monachus monachus, Falco eleonorae, Larus audouinii in the proposed park area was completed during the helicopter flight. Early next year a TV film of 45 min will be produced, including additionally the islands Erimomilos and Crete with Capra aegagrus pictus and Capra aegagrus cretica. (Note: Eventally, the wild goats on Erimomilos and Crete were presented in separate later films). Later on this film will be shown to high governmnet officials in order to promote the project.

A book with many photographs in colour about the natural beauty and diversity of Greece with special emphasis on the islands of the Northern Sporades will be produced in co-operation with the Natural History Museum Goulandreum next year. (Note: This book never got published).

Short papers on Monachus monachus will be published in the Journal of the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature and in Oryx.

An offer for funds from the Oryx 100% Fund was received from Mrs. Fitter on Nov. 9th, to help recompensate the fishermen of Alonnisos for nets destroyed by Monachus. The application form with the request for Pound Sterling 500,– in return was mailed on Nov. 26th.

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Main results: (primarily of the meeting on Dec. 18th)

Mr. Yeroulanos together with his staff of the National Council for Physical Planning and Environment will start work on the project early next year.

IUCN has integrated the project into its Marine Programme.

The high priority of this project was emphasized by all participants of the meetings in Athens. It is envisaged to approach personally the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture. An album with colour photographs and another helicopter trip will be very useful to promote the project.

The unique situation on the islands of the outer Northen Sporades can be summarized as follows:

It is the only larger archipelago at least in the eastern Mediterranean Sea which is almost uninhabited (only 3 – 4 families and one more resident on a total of 19 islands!). The natural environment is left almost completely in its original state. Human utilization is confined at present to goat grazing and traditional fisheries The islands are one of the most important habitats left for Monachus monachus, and Falco eleonorae, several species of sea birds (eg. Larus audouinii) and a main resting station for migratory birds. The sea around the islands is very clean and rich in fish and other marine life. The islands landscape is outstanding in beauty and diversity, with forests of pine and oak trees and various types of lower island vegetation communities – they are still „green“ islands. There are outstanding natural monuments like the caves on Gioura and Kyra Panagia, high cliffs on Piperi and Gioura (elevation 500 m). There are also important historical monuments like the monasteries on Kyra Panagia and Skantzoura and the churches on Piperi, Gioura and Papu. The geographical constellation provides the best means for maintenance of this undisturbed archipelago and very good possibilities for control and prevention of pollution.

The presence of Mr. Florous, representative of the fishermen of Alonnisos provided opportunity for first hand informations on the problems and thoughts of those local people which traditionally visit the projected park area and are responsible for the fate of Monachus in  adirect way. It is clear from own investigations and from the staements by Mr. Florous that the whole seal poputation of these islands could beeasily eradicated by the fishermen within one month! It is therefore a great risk just to enforce protection laws, because then oe had to control every boat day and night – which is impossible. Therefore, recompensation payments are an essential counterpart of the protection laws.

The meetings provided excellent means for Mr. Florous to obtain first hand informations on the importance and principles of conservation in his home area and generally. It was a very intense and promising start of a dialogue which will continue at several levels.

The seal population in the area is still relatively large. Therefore, the losses of nets and fish taken by the seals from the nets are a serious problem for the local fishing boats. Often all fish are taken during the night and the nets completely destroyed.

It is recommended to recompensate the boats of Alonnisos (and Skopelos?) – a total of about 50 – by payments at the beginning of every year of an amount equal to the average losses per year per boat. At least 5 nets are completely destroyed per boat, each at the cost of 1.500 Drachmes. The figures for the fish catches lost per boat have to be worked ut. It was agreed that recompensation only is not sufficient to prevent the boats from killing seals: wildlife tourism (round trips) and the proposed ban on underwater fishing and on the techniques of the so called Grigri  tis imeras – boats are additional attractives.

According to Mr. Florous the greatest harm to the fish populations around the islands do underwater harpoon hunting (mainly by tourists) and the activities of the Grigri tis imeras which fish with fine nets in depths of less than 18 m: more than three quarters of the fish catches consist of very small fish which are thrown into the sea again. This technique is said to be more harmful than the formerly common fishing with dynamite!

Traditional fishing as it is practized by the boats from Alonnisos does not endanger or even noticeaby diminish the marine fauna around the islands of the proposed park area. It is therefore recommended to limit fishing after establishment of the park to these TRADITIONAL fishery techniques.

There is no reason to stop fishry in the area and to pay the people concerned until they have found another occupation. The small boats are an essential part of the atmosphere of the islands and any step to bring this traditional part of the islands life to an end is against the principles of conservation: never the promotion of conservation on the one side must mean the termination or destruction of another asset. In this context I refer to the Cretan National Park where the establishment of the park was the beginning of nature protection and marked the beginning of destruction of the old village of Samaria whose houses were very important cultural monuments; they are all in ruins now, because the villagers had to leave.

Limiting the fishery in the area of the proposed park to the traditional practizes implies also the aspect that after a decade or so when there will be an overall abandonment of traditions, the recompensation payments will come to an end automatically.

There is no reason to limit tourist fishing from boats by hook. Also yachting and cruising in kaiki boats has not to be prohibited.

However, the island of Piperi which is the center of Monachus habitation should be declared a strict nature reserve and any activities along its shores stopped.

The catalogue of regulations set up by Prof. K. Ronald for the reserves proposed by him for the Dodekanesos could be applied for the Northern Sporades as well, except that for a national park in some ways other regulations and adjustments to the local conditions will be necessary.

It is planned to start investigations soon on the possibilities to lease or purchase the island of Piperi from its private owner, Mr. Th. Lemonis of Skopelos. Only recently three Athenians have leased the island of Kyra Panagia with surrounding islands from the Monastery of Lavra, Mount Athos. As these people are planning large scale goat and cattle breeding and road building on the island, very urgent steps are necessary to facilitate a take over of the lease by the Greek Government as soon as possible. This is not a simple task because Mt. Athos is not part of the State of Greece and negotiations have to be handled by the Foreign Office. In order to prevent a similar development on the other group of islands owned by the Monastery of Lavra – Skantzoura and surrounding small islands – the Greek Government should take up negotiations as soon as possible to lease them before other people have signed a contract with Lavra. It will be easier to come to an agreement with the owners of the small but important volcanic island of Psathoura. (Gioura is already owned by the Greek State).

A very important topic is the prevention of large scale hunting on Alonnisos, mainly by tourists (see my letter of Oct. 6, p. 4). Mr. Florous stated that the local population of the island is against such plans which would endanger the holiday tourism.

For the preservation of the traditional breed of cattle Mr. Yeroulanos has approached the Ministry of Agriculture. (See ref. in the letter mentioned, p.2 and additional papers supplied to Mr. Yeroulanos). Only one farmer maintains a small herd of this endemic cattle. It is envisaged to breed them for future economic utilization on Alonnisos and perhaps also in a free ranging herd on Kyra Panagia or (and) Piperi.

A prime topic is the reduction of the feral goat population on the islad of Gioura: more than three quarters have to be shot as soon as possible in order to safe the oak forests and other plant communities. This goat was considered a wild species in earlier times. It is, however, a feral animal of some cultural significance as a very old breed.

It is recommended to transfer at a later stage a stock of hese goats to a smaler island in order to keep this breed, but to eradicate the goats completely on Gioura.

Also on the larger islands like Piperi, Kyra Panagia and Skantzoura all domestic goats have to be eradicated (Note: On Kyra Panagia some stock should be preserved, in case the traditional husbandry and cheese production will be maintained).

Only recently, a very small island near Skantzoura (Strongili) was completely devastated by the introduction of rabbits and goats. Rabbits also live on Papu between Kyra Panagia and Gioura.

An ornithological survey of the islands is much desired. But even more important would be a botanical survey.

Munich, 23 December 1976

Th.G. Schultze-Westrum

cc: all persons mentioned in this report,

Dr. H. Jungius, WWF

encl.: 3 maps

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It follows my letter to Mr. Byron Antipas of 8 July 1977:


Dr. Thomas Schultze-Westrum   Kaiserstr. 52    D 8000 München 40


Mr. Byron Antipas

Hon. Secretary

Hellenic Society for

the Protection of Nature,

Athens


Kifissia, 8. July 1977

Subject:  Establisment of a conservation area in the

Northern Sporades

Dear Mr. Antipas,

Noting the very substancial progress made in establishing the above conservation area to protect marine habitat and rare species like monk seal, Audouin’s gull and Eleonora’s falcon I wish to congratulate the Greek overnment and yourself in the hope that the project will go ahead as it is laid out now.

You have asked me for annotations to the programme. So I am going to send you my remarks as quickly as possible in order that they can be worked into the scheme where governmnet authorities and yourself feel it is adviseable:

Area: In the present scheme there are mentioned only the large islands: Psathoura, Kyra Panagia, Skantzoura, Piperi and Gioura and the small islands Kiriako and Koraka. There are, however, along the coast line of these islands and between them other islands which essentially should belong to the conservation area (landscape, rare fana like monk seal). These are (please compare my map in my project report December 1976):

Gramsa, Strongyli and Papu between Gioura and Kyra Panagia (they belong to the monastery of Lavra);

Mikropsathoura beween between Psathoura and Gioura (privately owned);

3 islands along the coast of Kyra Panagia (1 in the bay agios Petros, 1 in the entrance to the bay Planiti named Sfika, and the island Melissa southeast of Kyra Panagia – they all belong to Lavra);

Islands along the cast of Skantzoura (in addition to Koraka and Kiriako): 3 islands northwest of Skantzoura (the outer one I cannot name, then towards Skantzoura: Kassidis and Polemika; 1 island west of Sk.: Strongylo; southwest of Sk.: Marango, (Koraka + Kiriako as small appendix), Prassou. (They all belong to Lavra).

This brings the number of islands included into the conservation area to 20. There are smaller rocks as well, of course.

Zoning: The proposed half mile zone around each island where fishing of any kind will be prohibited should be extended to the smaller islands mentioned above, thus providing an effective ban of any uncontrolled spear and other fishing within the archipelago.

The zone for Gri – Gri boats should be determined along suggestions by the fishermen of Alonnnisos, because only they know well, where the fishing of these boats is harmful (insert by hand writing: Thinking this over again I suggest to consider that perhaps it will be the simplest way to determine the ban zone for any fishing along the critera appplied for Gri – Gri boats, thus avoiding to have two different types of zoning). While we were working in the area during May/June this year there were 25 Gri – Gri boats fishing there and they threw more than 20 tons of fish into the sea (!), because they were too small to be sold on the market.

For Piperi a ban zone of 1 mile is suggested, to avoid boats shooting at seals. In this case not only fishing, but any activity should be prohibited within that area, which practically means that no boat is allowed within that zone.

Fishing by local fishermen: Special permission should be granted to the local fishermen of Alonnisos (and Skopelos?) to fish also in the ban zones of half a mile and one mile respectively under the provision that there is no interference with fauna other than fish and other species (crustaceans, cephalopols) harvested commercially along traditional techniques. This permission should be revocable generally or in individual cases. No approach to Piperi should be permitted from 1 August to 31 October, for local fisheries.

Entering of islands: No one should be permitted to enter Piperi island, except by written permission, because of the great danger of fires in the rich pine forests. This is practically the fact, as no boat is allowed closer to one mile, but it should be additionally prohibited by wording.

Hunting: Also the carrying of weapons should be prohibited (e.g. in boats).

Kiriako: No one should enter the island from 1 May to 1 August.

Local breed of cattle: The remaining small herd of this almost extinct breed should be especially mentioned (plus the stock on Skopelos – both owned by Mr. Th. Lemonis). Either on Piperi or on Kyra Panagia they could be kept unter semi – feral conditions (as at presnet on Piperi, where nobody lives). Recently the attempt was made to re – introduce cattle to Kyra Panagia: as there were no local animals available, catle was imported from the mainland. They died or had to be removed within a few months time! This illustrates, how well the endemic breed is adapted to local conditions. They have great economic significance for future replacement of goats on other islands of the Aegean area! By keeping them at Piperi or Kyra Panagia after purchase from Mr. Lemonis they could be maintained, for further utilization.

Gioura: There are several thousand „wild“ goats on the island at present. This figure is not readily released by the warden who prefers to keep quiet on the drastic over – population. Literally, the island will be grazed to death by the goats. Bare rock is everywhere and the remaining patches of oak forest are diminishing rapidly. My suggestion is to eradicate the goat from Gioura completely and to keep a small herd on a smaller, better controllable island like Ag. Georgios between Alonisos and Skopelos, where the forestry department already maintains a few animals The reasons are that 1. these goats are no wild species but feral animals (with some historical significance, because they represnet a very old breed which has readapted to wild conditions since centures), and 2. because there are no means to control the goats on Gioura due to the very difficult terrain wih mountains raising up to 500 m, 3. because it is the only way to enlarge the formerly widely extended oak forest again.

Bees: Limited bee keeping should be permitted under special permission on Giuora and Kya Panagia.

With kindest regards, Yours Th. Schultze-Westrum







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This entry was posted on Juli 9, 2010 at 12:03 and is filed under European Dilemma - Greek Tragedy, Highlights in an Explorer's Life, Northern Sporades, The Monk Seal Alliance.

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