We sent a joint letter to the Greek Prime Minister together with environmental organizations, scientific experts, and local community representatives from the Ionian Sea, protesting seismic exploration activities in the Hellenic Trench.
The world is facing an uncertain and unstable political crisis. However, there is also little doubt that climate change and continued biodiversity loss remain two of the most pressing issues facing current and future generations.
On the occasion of the recent strandings of beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) off the island of Corfu, more than 60 environmental organizations, scientific experts, and representatives of the local Ionian community joined forces and sent a letter to the Prime Minister and responsible ministries. In the letter, the signatories expressed their deep concerns about seismic exploration activities in the Hellenic Trench, particularly the threats they pose to marine species.
The Hellenic Trench is a critical habitat for protected and endangered cetacean species, and the noise pollution caused by seismic surveys poses grave risks to marine mammals and other marine species, in some cases even leading to death.
Unfortunately, the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for seismic surveys in the Ionian Sea has been considered insufficient by both specialist scientists and environmental organizations. In addition, there was no proper and thorough Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted before the official approval of the seismic activities, which is in stark contrast to Greece's obligation, according to European law and international commitments.
The aforementioned seismic surveys carried out in the Hellenic Trench do not comply at all with the provisions of the conventions that have been ratified by Greece, aimed at the conservation of critical habitats and the protection of vulnerable species. At the same time, the execution of the seismic survey operations moves Greece away from achieving good environmental status by reducing the effects of noise pollution (Descriptor 11 of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive).
National energy availability is a very sensitive political issue, but seismic surveys conducted during new oil and gas exploration that may not be exploited until after a decade are in stark contrast to the urgent and decisive action needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if we are to keep the world within the 1.5°C threshold as agreed by the Paris Agreement and ignore the report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).