Marine Life Preservation Efforts by Greek Ferries

The main threats to island ecosystems are overfishing, pollution, coastal development and unsustainable tourism. These can be reduced through effective marine planning and reformed regulation.

Rewilding islands from ridge-to-reef is essential to restoring globally significant biodiversity and benefitting wildlife, oceans and communities. However, much of the conservation community remains decoupled from crucial anthropological and archaeological perspectives.

1. Eco-friendly Ships

The ocean supports half the world’s biodiversity, produces oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide. But over-fishing is stripping the seas of life, which has profound consequences for the Earth’s climate and biosphere.

Greek Ferries is dedicated to the preservation of marine wildlife and strives to minimize the impact of its operations on the environment, by reducing energy consumption, eliminating hazardous waste and adopting strict policies. The company is a member of HELMEPA (Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association) and adheres to all applicable international environmental legislation and quality certification procedures.

Using modern technology, the fleet has been converted to use LNG (liquefied natural gas) engines, lowering its CO2 emissions by 30% and saving fuel. The company also employs a team of trained marine biologists to monitor the health and status of local wildlife.

By relocating invasive species, connecting islands and encouraging the rewilding of marine ecosystems, Island Conservation hopes to curb the extinction crisis. In 2022, the organization launched the Island-Ocean Connection Challenge, a program that aims to restore and rewild 40 island ecosystems by 2030.

In addition, Island Conservation works to promote responsible tourism practices and improve the relationship between humans and nature. They also work with governments to reform fishing, reduce invasive species and develop effective marine protected areas. In the US, they have implemented projects on Anacapa Island and Lehua Island that have benefited the Scripps’ murrelet, Anacapa deer mouse and Newell’s shearwater, respectively.

2. Cleanliness

Greek ferries make an effort to develop their environmental policy with the aim of preventing sea and air pollution. They also abide by all international standards and regularly undergo quality certification procedures. In addition, they offer their employees general and task-specific training to prevent accidents that might negatively affect the environment.

Tourism is a major part of the Greek economy, and with the country having one of Europe’s longest coastlines, keeping the waters clean has become paramount to the industry’s success. Indeed, at last count Greece boasted 581 blue flag beaches, with pristine waters becoming the main draw for tourists and locals alike.

However, even the most paradisiac islands face challenges – as highlighted by recent stories of popular beaches in the UK being discharged with raw sewage – not to mention predictions that plastic will outnumber fish in the oceans by 2050. But the good news is that direct threats to island ecosystems, such as overfishing, pollution, unsustainable coastal development, marine traffic and invasive species, can be significantly reduced through effective collaborative conservation efforts and improved government regulation.

3. Energy Efficiency

The ferries of the Attica Group are powered by fuel-efficient engines that reduce carbon dioxide emissions and waste. Moreover, the company strictly adheres to international regulations and environmental policies. This is the case for all its vessels operating within Greek waters, including its ro-ro passenger and car ferries to and from the mainland and the islands of the Aegean Sea. Additionally, its Blue Star and Superfast ferries are fully equipped with wastewater treatment systems that reduce the amount of water discharged into the marine environment.

Island Conservation works to prevent species extinctions by targeting and removing invasive species on islands that support critical habitat for native species, such as seabirds, Hawaiian monk seals and endemic plants. The organization also conducts research on island ecosystems and works with local communities to implement sustainable solutions.

Researchers, indigenous peoples and island communities have long known that healthy ocean environments depend on healthy islands. Emerging scientific evidence now supports this premise: when connector species like seabirds are restored to islands, their presence encourages the return of oceanic nutrients to land, where they nourish reefs and provide climate resiliency.

To this end, in April 2022, Island Conservation and partners relaunched the Island-Ocean Connection Challenge (IOCC). Through the campaign, they seek to restore 40 globally significant island-ocean ecosystems holistically, from ridge to reef.

4. Safety

Invasive species are a major threat to island wildlife. Island Conservation is working to reduce the impact of invasive predators and plants on native animals, with the goal of restoring their land-ocean connections. The group’s research shows that terrestrial and marine ecosystems thrive when people and nature work together.

Invaders, such as rats, can harm native island species like seabirds and crabs, but research shows that marine and terrestrial ecosystems both benefit from eradication efforts. Island Conservation’s team is identifying the best practices for tropical rodent eradication and applying them to Choros Island, Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, and Palau’s Sonsorol Island.

The organization’s outreach also helped to reduce collision risks to sperm whales in the Hellenic Trench by instructing shipping companies passing through the area to alter their routes. Estimates suggest that these actions could reduce the number of vessels crossing the path of sperm whales by more than half.

To ensure the safety of passengers and marine life, Greek Ferries adheres to strict environmental policies and undergoes frequent inspections. In addition, all vessels are equipped with a series of safety measures, including fire safety doors/hatches that seal automatically to isolate areas in the event of an emergency, fire warning buttons, and sprinklers. Passengers are also provided with personal lifejackets and their own flashlights to help them find their way off the ship in an emergency.