Island Conservation: Environmental Initiatives on Greek Ferry Routes

Islands host a disproportionate share of the world’s biodiversity, but are often overlooked in global conservation efforts. In a new perspective piece in PNAS, researchers argue that island wildlife, ecosystems and people can thrive when conservation strategies take both land and sea into consideration.

The companies of the Greek Ferry Lines are continuously working to reduce their impact on the environment. From the use of e-tickets to the strict adherence of international regulations such as MARPOL, they are taking great strides towards a greener future.

The Blue Star Ferries and Superfast Ferries

Blue Star Ferries is Greece’s largest ferry company, and it connects the mainland port of Piraeus to 36 destinations across the Aegean Sea. Its fleet of modern vessels includes passenger and car-passenger ships, as well as high-speed ferries that can accommodate cars, motorbikes and bicycles. It is also committed to environmental sustainability, and has an on-board recycling program.

Its newest ships are powered by liquid natural gas (LNG) and are designed to reduce energy use. Additionally, it uses ultra-low sulfur fuel oil on some of its ferries, which reduces greenhouse gases by up to 90%. It has also introduced biofuels on some of its ferries, which are made from agricultural waste and can cut emissions by 80-90%.

In addition, Blue Star’s onboard restaurants use only certified, eco-friendly ingredients. They also strive to minimize the use of disposable plastics, and food and retail packaging is reused on board when possible. They are also careful to adhere to local and international regulations governing marine safety and the environment, including MARPOL.

As a part of their commitment to the environment, Blue Star has created a special program that provides passengers with free ferry tickets if they buy products from environmentally-friendly companies on board. They also encourage their staff to participate in environmental training. The company is also a member of the Alliance for Zero Extinction, and it has partnerships with many island conservation organizations.

The Minoan Lines

Minoan Lines has placed great emphasis on environmentally conscious practices, following a corporate policy for environmental issues, aspects and impacts while complying with local and international regulations. In particular, it has invested in the installation of exhaust gas-cleaning technology (scrubbers) on all vessels of its fleet in order to reduce harmful emissions, improve Greek coastal green records and adhere to new international legislation on air pollutants.

The program’s objective was to promote awareness about the geocultural heritage of Crete through theater and environmental education. It also aims to encourage sustainable behavior in natives and visitors by fostering an understanding of Minoan culture, which has been a personification of Nature to the ancient Cretans. Additionally, it aims to parallel the course of the Minoan civilization with the modern course of humanity.

Moreover, it seeks to restore land-ocean connections on islands by eradicating invasive species such as rats that harm native island seabirds and crabs. According to research, both terrestrial and marine ecosystems benefit when invasive species are eliminated from islands.

In addition to these initiatives, the company has also made sure to provide its ships with all necessary equipment in order to prevent any kind of accident. This way, the passengers can enjoy their journey without worrying about any incidents. Furthermore, it has adjusted its commercial policies in order to ensure that all social groups are provided with affordable services.

The Anek Lines

The Anek Lines company carries passengers and vehicles on its routes between Piraeus, Crete, and Italy. Their ferries feature the Anek livery and are all equipped with modern technologies and facilities. The company has an impressive safety record and provides competitive fares for its services.

The company also takes measures to prevent pollution from its vessels. It has a comprehensive environmental policy and adheres to strict quality certification procedures. This is a significant effort that reflects the company’s commitment to protecting its natural environment and the environment of its passengers.

Another important initiative by the Anek Lines is its work with Island Conservation to eradicate invasive species from islands. This work benefits terrestrial and marine ecosystems on both the mainland and the islands. The project focuses on eradicating invasive rodents and plants that harm native island species. In addition, the project helps local communities and government management agencies to plan and implement island-wide eradication efforts.

As a member of the Alliance for Zero Extinction, Island Conservation works with many organizations and island governments to coordinate and facilitate land-sea restoration projects. Their partners include island owners/managers, local community groups, regulators, conservation organizations, and international conservation consortiums.

The Greek Ferry Companies

In an effort to reduce energy consumption and pollution, both Blue Star Ferries and Superfast Ferries have installed a number of eco friendly measures on their ships. For example, there are signs on board encouraging passengers to keep the sea clean and to follow instructions for proper disposal of litter. In addition, waste water is collected and stored on board for later treatment. In terms of fuel consumption, the companies have also reduced their emissions by 30% over the last two decades.

Despite these efforts, the companies are still facing challenges. For instance, rising competition from low-cost airlines is putting pressure on ferry companies to innovate and improve their services to remain competitive. Additionally, the ongoing economic crisis is affecting travel to Greece and could affect the demand for ferry services.

The companies are working to address these issues by introducing new routes and developing innovative services such as e-ticketing. In addition, they are investing in hybrid vessels that offer a more sustainable alternative to traditional diesel-powered ships.

Island Conservation works with local communities and government management agencies to remove invasive species from islands. This approach is called the “ridge to reef” model, which aims to reconnect land and sea on islands. This approach can help wildlife, ecosystems and people thrive on islands. Moreover, it can also serve as an important complement to more traditional approaches such as restoration of native vegetation and marine protected areas.