Vol­un­teer divers clean up beaches and ports around the coun­try

Kathimerini English - - Life - BY YIAN­NIS ELAFROS

Pro­fes­sional and ama­teur divers have en­listed their skills in clean­ing up the en­vi­ron­ment in the Ydron­aftes (Hy­dro­nauts) ini­tia­tive, which or­ga­nizes seabed cleanups at ports and mari­nas all around the coun­try.

Dur­ing one of their more re­cent op­er­a­tions, at the port of Lavrio, south­east of Athens, the vol­un­teers were shocked at the amount and types of trash they found foul­ing up the sea.

“We found all kinds of plas­tic items, car bat­ter­ies, fish­ing equip­ment, even a large pot with a palm tree in it, as well as ce­ment benches,” Panayi­o­tis Tasi­adamis, head of the Ydron­aftes board, told Kathimerini. “Un­for­tu­nately, many peo­ple re­gard the sea as a huge dump in which they can dis­pose of all their cum­ber­some garbage. You see, no one re­ally makes a fuss about the mess they cre­ate. But the de­struc­tion is not just vis­ual, it’s not just about ugly coast­lines, but also about the pol­lu­tion this refuse gen­er­ates. Mean­while, dis­carded fish­ing nets trap fish and sail cloths can suf­fo­cate other marine life,” he added.

Ydron­aftes was founded in De­cem­ber 2010 with the aim of con­duct­ing or­ga­nized and safe sea cleanups. Among their var­i­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal ini­tia­tives is the “Voice of the Deep” pub­lic aware­ness cam­paign.

“I have been div­ing for sev­eral years and I can see the mas­sive scale of the de­struc­tion that is tak­ing place, even in se­cluded ar­eas,” said Tasi­adamis. “The main causes of this de­struc­tion are cer­tain fish­ing meth­ods such as trawl­ing – which has been pro­hib­ited in other Euro­pean Union coun­tries – and the il­le­gal use of dy­na­mite, which, un­for­tu­nately, per­sists. In some cases, these prac­tices have even changed the mor­phol­ogy of the seabed.”

The Ydron­aftes are un­der no il­lu­sion that they are sav­ing Greece’s seas. “Our ac­tions are mainly sym­bolic and aimed at rais­ing pub­lic aware­ness. When peo­ple watch us dredg­ing up all this dis­gust­ing garbage from the sea, they stop see­ing the sea as a dump,” added Tasi­adamis.

If the Lavrio ef­fort is any­thing to go by, the group’s mes­sage is start­ing to get through, given the num­ber of non-mem­bers who jumped in to help the 40-odd divers, as well as the 200 vol­un­teers who worked on the shore to shift the garbage.

Sub­se­quent ac­tions in­cluded a cleanup at the Gly­fada ma­rina in south­ern Athens on Sun­day, May 8, and there are plans to visit Pe­fki on the is­land of Evia this Sun­day, May 15, and Sy­ros on June 12. For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.ydron­aftes.gr (in Greek only) or call 6978.727.383.

The Ydron­aftes divers will be at

Pe­fki on the is­land of Evia this Sun­day, May 15, and on Sy­ros in the Cy­clades on

June 12, con­duct­ing a seabed

and beach cleanup. Peo­ple

who are not divers can also help the group by re­mov­ing the

garbage dredged up safe

ly and clean­ing up the beach and

coast­line.

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