A new hope-inspiring reality: Greece, the Caribbean of Europe.
Recreational scuba diving is a particularly popular pastime worldwide and also very eco-friendly, but it also drives a high-quality and environmentally-sensitive tourism market. Scuba diving was forbidden in Greece for many decades, despite it being an ideal diving destination, which left our country outside the market until recently.
Almost twenty years of judicial, social and legislative efforts, led by founding members of our Association, forged a victory for all those who love to dive, as by Law 3409/2005 scuba diving is now allowed for all, and Greece with its unique waters, the beauty of its underwater landscapes and year-long season can enter the diving world with first-class expectations.
Unfortunately, like in other European Mediterranean countries, ruthless over-fishing using cutting-edge methods, particularly over the past few decades, has depleted the seas of fish stocks, which beyond the huge negative impact on the marine ecology, also means that there is little for divers to see.
The solution lies in diving parks: small spread-out locales covering a maximum marine area of 200 hectares (2 sq. kms), where all forms of fishing are prohibited and where only diving and underwater observation from glass-bottomed boats is permitted.
Visitor entrance fees pay for guarding the sites without impacting the Greek national budget (a classic example of sustainable development) and in a short amount of time the natural marine flora and fauna returns to its initial condition, with an incredible increase in fish size, number of species and populations, creating a wonderful oasis of life, which attracts thousands of divers / tourists; but also acting as an ongoing natural breeding ground, which constantly replenishes fish populations in the surrounding area, with benefits to local coastal fishermen.
In this manner, instead of consuming and pillaging our seas, we sell our fish thousands of times, preserving them and keeping their environment alive.
All this has been proved in practice in other countries. A typical example is the small diving park on the rocky Medes islands near Barcelona, whose tremendous success overturned the most pessimistic scientific readings about the Mediterranean, but also transformed the nearby village of Estartit into a modern, flourishing tourist city and a diving destination of international renown, increasing its tourist season from 3 to 10 months a year!
Hellenic Law 3409/2005 on recreational scuba diving makes provision for the creation of diving parks as well as underwater museums, so that the wealth of Greek underwater cultural heritage no longer remains obscure and unknown: on the contrary it can and shall be a new fundamental attraction for culture lovers worldwide. The final existing legal and bureaucratic issues are already being overcome and soon diving parks and underwater museums will adorn our country, opening a new hope-filled era for the environment and for Greek tourism.
All these wonderful things cannot take place without local society being informed and supportive. Despite the fact that these concepts are new and unknown, when people become aware of them, they give rise to great enthusiasm and acceptance, as they constitute positive actions for the environment, for quality of life, but also for sustainable and ecologically-compatible economic development.