A front-runner in the area of sustainability and eco-friendly practices, the Greek island of Alonissos contributed to a workshop last month on the marine economy and how to develop tourism based on the marine environment that will benefit the local and national economy without causing damage.
During the day event held at the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR) Anavyssos, and attended by experts in the field, Alonissos municipal authorities presented the island’s development plan as an example of good practices in the marine economy and towards local economic development.
The plan focuses on the National Marine Park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades and how best to tap into the island’s natural offerings, the ancient and contemporary shipwrecks – including the largest ancient shipwreck carrying 3,000 amphorae in Peristera – as well as its role in the protection of the Monk Seal – all aimed at creating jobs and boosting the community.
Speakers also referred to future actions aimed at showcasing the island’s cultural heritage and the development of fishing and diving tourism through private-public partnerships and co-management schemes. At the same time, to complement the actions, island authorities are exploring ways to upgrade tourism infrastructure and to tap into funding options.
Other plans include setting up awareness and info centers initially as a pilot project which will use innovative virtual diving and 3D-imaging technologies to attract new audiences.
“By creating a complete product which is based on local initiative, the partnership of various actors is supported and the sustainability of good practices in the maritime economy is greatly strengthened,” said Alonissos Mayor Petros Vafinis.
BlueMed Program Aiming to Make Greek Shipwrecks ‘Visitable’
The current phase of the BlueMed program kicked off in 2016 and will be completed by October next year, aiming to identify best practices for the protection and promotion of underwater cultural heritage with the ultimate goal to make such sites visitable.
More specifically the program carried out by the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in collaboration with university partners from Cyprus, Croatia and Italy, diving centers and the Thessaly Region examined the shipwrecks of Alonissos and Pagasitikos.
Besides the underwater inspections and cleaning efforts on the pilot sites of Peristera off Alonnisos and in the Western Pagasitikos Gulf, the program aims to identify the sites of Kikinthos and capes Tilegrafos and Glaros, to be included as points of interest for visitors and divers once the diving parks open to the public.
The BlueMed research and innovation initiative aims to promote the blue economyin the Mediterranean through cooperation in efforts to create new jobs, social well being and a sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors.