Unspoiled Ionian Sea | WWF

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Unspoiled Ionian Sea

A critical habitat for marine biodiversity. Home to majestic, yet threatened creatures, such as whales, dolphins, sea turtles, seals, and corals. And a world-famous tourist destination, pillar of a thriving tourism economy, on which hundreds of thousands of households in local communities depend. This is the Ionian Sea and its islands, where the Blue Panda will be sailing in just a few days.

© Joakim Odelberg
Zakynthos is the most important loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) nesting habitat in the Mediterranean

Yet this area faces an imminent threat. A marine area of almost 60.000 square kilometres, (equal to twice the size of Belgium), from the north of Corfu to the south of Crete has been already conceded to national and foreign oil companies for oil and gas exploration and exploitation. The area largely overlaps with the Hellenic Trench, a marine biodiversity hotspot of global ecological importance. The hydrocarbon development program can have disastrous effects on marine life throughout its whole cycle and already from the very first stages of seismic testing.

© WWF Greece
Map of oil and gas concessions in the Ionian Sea

From litigation and advocacy work, to alliance building with businesses, scientists and local authorities, WWF Greece’s campaign has been unveiling on different levels to stop this dangerous hydrocarbon development in Greece. During the past months, we have been traveling extensively to the affected areas organizing open discussions, public conferences, and council meetings, to raise awareness and empower local communities. A single major oil spill in the area would have a catastrophic environmental impact and could cost up to 1.78 billion euros wiping out up to 25.000 jobs overnight.

As the oil industry shows no signs of an intention to withdraw from the area in pursuit of an alternative, zero-carbon economy, and a newly elected government has only recently been elected to power, the Blue Panda’s arrival in Greece is very timely. We will travel to Zakynthos, Ithaca and Kefalonia – all of which are surrounded by concessions – in an effort to reach out and mobilize thousands of locals and tourists from Greece and all over the world against this. The Blue Panda will celebrate all that is beautiful in Greece: the crystal clear waters, the magnificent creatures of the sea, the country’s history and culture. It is also here though to remind us all that is at stake and that is worth fighting for.

#OilFreeGreece

Join our journey and add your voice for a Mediterranean free from oil and plastic pollution.

© WWF Greece