The Hellenic Trench is a critical habitat for protected and endangered species of cetaceans. Noise pollution caused by seismic surveys poses severe risks to many marine species (including disruption of normal behaviour, exclusion from habitat, prey depletion and physical harm) and such surveys are being conducted in the Hellenic Trench in the course of exploration for new oil and gas. These actions are in stark contrast with the urgent and decisive action needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt biodiversity loss.

On the sad occasion of the recent stranding incidents of endangered Cuvier’s beaked whales off the coasts of Corfu Island, environmental organizations, scientific experts, and representatives of the local community of the Ionian, joined forces to signal that seismic blasts do not comply with the provisions of various UN Conventions, European Union law and Mediterranean environmental agreements and declarations that have been ratified by Greece, aiming to preserve important habitats and protect vulnerable species. More specifically, the execution of seismic survey operations diverts Greece from achieving a Good Environmental Status by reducing the effects of noise pollution (Descriptor 11 of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive).

Aware that the current availability of energy at the national and regional level is an issue of high political sensitivity, more than 60 signatories, among which MIO-ECSDE, have sent a joint letter to the Greek Prime Minister and the responsible Ministries, expressing their deep concerns over the seismic exploration activities in the Hellenic Trench, and especially the threats they pose to marine species.

There is little doubt that climate change and biodiversity loss are some of the most pressing issues facing current and future generations. In this respect, if we want to keep the world on a 1.5°C pathway, as agreed by the Paris Agreement, we must not ignore the scientific warnings such as the most recent report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and reconsider activities that undermine the health of our climate and biodiversity.

Find the joint letter here

Find the joint Press Release here

Read in French here