The aquatic environment as a precious heritage should be protected and restored in order to preserve biodiversity and ensure its vital functions that contribute to a clean, healthy and productive environment. Our goal is: 1) the protection of aquatic ecosystems through raising awareness and informing society about current environmental problems and good practices to address them, 2) promoting the adoption of measures and sound policies for the protection of the environment 3) the elaboration and promotion of scientific research, in order to be the basis for sustainable development with the aim of environmental, social and economic prosperity.
You can find more information in our statute.
What are we doing
We operate in 4 main pillars that contribute to the assessment of the state of aquatic ecosystems:
- Vulnerable Species
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth. Biodiversity loss is the displacement or extinction of species. Living species and ecosystems are the cornerstone of life as we know it today. These are functional groups, each of which plays an important role in maintaining the balance of life. People tend to understand the value of a species or ecosystem when they directly offer something directly to humans, such as fish being food or a sandy beach serving tourism. In fact, all species and ecosystems contribute to the well-being of humans, as well as to all organisms just because they exist. The loss of a particular species may seem insignificant, however, the extinction of one species increases the likelihood of other species becoming extinct through a chain reaction resulting in the collapse of ecosystems.
Today, the accelerating rate of species extinction is the highest ever recorded as the "6th Mass extinction of species in the history of the planet." It is mainly due to humankind man and his activities. The ocean is 90% of the habitable space on the planet and hosts huge biodiversity. It is estimated that without drastic action by 2100, more than half of the world's marine species will be on the verge of extinction. Today, 60% of the world's largest marine ecosystems are degraded or unsustainable.
The Mediterranean Sea is no exception, although it has been designated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a "hotspot" of biodiversity, at least 1912 species are threatened with extinction. In terms of marine species, the biodiversity of the area remains largely unknown, as the available data are incomplete resulting in about 1/3 of the species evaluated so far being classified as "Insufficiently known". Greece has an extended coastline of more than 15,000 kilometers and is the 9th largest country;s coastline in the world. The Greek seas host a variety of species due to their morphological diversity (bays, ditches, extensive plateaus, etc.), as well as due to the high productivity as a result of the exceptional natural characteristics of the area (hydrodynamic regime, river runoff, proximity to the Black Sea etc.). Although Greece has taken some measures, as it is committed to International and Mediterranean treaties and conventions, for the conservation of vulnerable species and ecosystems, little has been implemented in practice.
According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 "Life in Water", by 2030, sustainable management and protection of marine and coastal ecosystems must be ensured in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans. In this context, iSea is committed to actions for the conservation, protection and restoration of vulnerable species and living ecosystems. Through our research, our goal is to study the species themselves, but also the anthropogenicactivities affecting them, in order to close the knowledge gaps and to take the appropriate measures and policies for their protection. Through education, our goal is to contribute to the spread of knowledge about vulnerable species. Finally, through the implementation of current legislation and the exercise of political pressure, as active members of civil society, our goal is to ensure the protection and conservation of vulnerable species.
2. Citizen Science
Citizen Science (CS) refers to the practice of citizen participation and cooperation in scientific research resulting in increased scientific knowledge. The term (CS) may not be widely known, but it has been around for centuries, as much of what we know about the world around us comes from observation and systematic study by non-scientific citizens! So even today, citizens around the world can act as scientists by providing important information, which contributes and greatly enhances scientific research on the natural world.
Through CS, citizens can engage in science in different ways depending on their location and interests. In particular, with regard to the environment and biodiversity, modern problems are particularly complex with social and cultural dimensions. Thus, the contribution of citizens in finding and implementing solutions through CS is a very promising and powerful tool to address them while strengthening the bridge between science and society.
CS projects can provide massive data, spatially and temporally, something that would otherwise be impossible for researchers to do alone. With regard to biodiversity and the natural environment, the data collected through CS may relate to species emergence, alien species distribution, water quality control, etc. This information, among other things, is necessary for rapid and up-to-date decision-making in order to sustainably manage natural resources. In addition, CS projects also contribute to environmental awareness and enhance participants' environmental literacy, as they raise awareness of critical issues such as biodiversity loss. Finally, through CS projects, citizens can provide information that will be used to create problem-solving strategies that concern them. Indicatively, data on the appearance of alien species, according to EU Regulation 1143/2012, can be used to take measures related to the immediate detection of spread, but also to prevent their further spread.
The goal of iSea is to inform and raise awareness of citizens and local communities about the biodiversity of Greece through their involvement in its observation and recording. In addition, iSea collects data which, in cooperation with the competent bodies, utilizes for the study of endangered species, species indicators for the state of the natural environment, rare and alien species in order to preserve marine organisms and ecosystems through the implementation of actions for their protection.
3. Human and Aquatic Ecosystems
Water is a source of life for humanity and for the planet. Aquatic ecosystems are an integral part of human history for survival and evolution, shaping societies as we know them today. Human's relationship with aquatic ecosystems evolved through the years. Faced with the current environmental crisis, our relationship with aquatic ecosystems needs to be redefined. At iSea we believe that understanding these ecosystems will lead citizens, young and old, to make responsible decisions and actions to preserve them. By studying the human relationship with aquatic ecosystems and informing citizens about their value and the risks they face, we contribute to the sustainable utilization of the ecosystem services they provide us.
4. Aquatic Litter
About 40% of the world's oceans are degraded by human activities including pollution from solid wastes. According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 "Life on Water", by 2025 the aim is to prevent and reduce all forms of marine pollution, especially from land activities, but also to substantially reduce it through prevention, reduction, reuse and recycling. by 2030, according to Goal 12 "Responsible consumption and production".
Since 2008, according to the European Maritime Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD, 2008/56 / EC), Member States must take measures to achieve or maintain a good environmental status (GES) of marine waters. Good water quality is based on 11 quality descriptors, with descriptor 10 (D 10) relating to marine litter and stating that the goal of achieving good marine health is to prevent the entry of additional litter into marine ecosystems and the reduction of the total amount of waste in the marine environment. It also identifies research needs, priorities and strategies to support the implementation of descriptor 10 (D 10). A crucial part of the strategy is the improvement of knowledge and the conduction of research, for data collection regarding the abundance of plastics and microplastics in marine ecosystems.
iSea focuses on monitoring the concentration of litter and microplastics, identifying their abundance and potential sources of origin across the country in collaboration with scientific bodies and other entities. An additional goal of iSea is to inform target groups and local communities about the impact of aquatic litter, current policies around it, as well as good practices for waste prevention and reduction, through their education on the issue, but also through mobilization and active participation.