83 km of coastline cleaned up by HELMEPA volunteers amidst the pandemic
During autumn, HELMEPA coordinated for the 30th consecutive year in Greece the International Coastal Cleanup campaign, the oldest and most extensive public awareness campaign on marine litter.
Despite the inherent difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 2,318 volunteers organized and participated in 82 coastal and underwater cleanups throughout Greece, from Alexandroupolis and Kastos island in the Ionian Sea, to the islands of Folegandros in the Aegean Sea and Crete.
Under the motto “We conduct beach cleanups with safety” and in compliance with the prescribed health and hygiene protocols, children and young people, members of the “HELMEPA Junior” and “HELMEPA Cadets” Programs, other students and teachers of 35 Kindergartens, Primary Schools, High Schools and various educational institutions, officers of 5 Port Authorities, members of environmental organizations, as well as ordinary citizens, sent a message of active participation and collective effort to protect the marine environment.
The following HELMEPA Member Companies and other bodies of the wider Greek shipping community made a difference in organizing and conducting beach cleanups together with their staff and families:
- Athenian Sea Carriers – Marathon Beach
- Blue Star Ferries – Island of Patmos
- Danaos Shipping – Elliniko Beach
- Diana Shipping and Kyla Shipping – SEF Beach in Neo Faliro
- DNV-GL – Cavouri Beach
- Franman – Schinias Beach
- KPMG – Edem and Marathonas Beach
- Propeller Club – Votsalakia Beach
- YES FORUM – Alimos Beach
It is also worth highlighting the participation of:
- 80 volunteer scuba divers in 14 underwater cleanups in Assos of Corinth, Elefsina, Heraklion, Corfu, Kiato, Loutraki, Pachi Megaron, Fira of Santorini and Psatha,
- the Periphery of the Ionian Islands and the Municipalities of Andros, Kea, Leros and Samothrace,
- the Transit Accommodation Facilities for Unaccompanied Refugee Minors in Samos
- the European Business Ethics Network – EBEN GR, the Andrion Club, the Association of Volunteer Forest Firefighters of Andros, the Greek Parachute Club of Magnesia and the NGO OIKO-Patmos,
- the companies of the tourism sector such as Expedia Group, Goldair Handling and Parga Beach,
- the Association of Hellenic Plastic Industries and citizens’ initiatives such as “Plastic Free Lesvos”.
The cleanups covered the impressive total length of 83 km of the coastline, while the volunteers collected and recorded 103,548 litter items with a total weight of 12 tons, part of which was recycled in collaboration with the Hellenic Recycling-Recovery Corporation (He.R.R.Co.)
The review of the “findings” included some surprises, as for the first time this year the cigarette ends were displaced in the second place of the most common marine litter items and replaced by plastic pieces. The top ten was dominated once again by plastic litter, which are directly linked with leisure activities in the coastal zone, remain for long in the environment and gradually decompose into microplastics entering the food chain.
HELMEPA awarded Commemorative Diplomas to the coordinators of the activities for their engagement, while for this year’s results the Chairwoman of HELMEPA Ms Semiramis Paliou stated: “We congratulate all the volunteers for their participation under these unprecedented and adverse conditions, as they constitute a beacon of hope that leads and inspires activities to promote support for and protection of our seas”.