Strymonikos and Ierissos Gulfs

Good and Bad Practice Examples for ICZM


Co-ordinating body or lead partner of ICZM process or project (with a short description)

Fisheries Research Institute (research institute that belongs to the Greek National Agricultural Research Foundation, a research foundation supervised by the Greek Ministry of Agriculture).


Location (community, province, country)

Strymonikos and Ierissos Gulfs, that belongs to 4 prefectures (Kavala, Serres, Thessaloniki, Chalkidiki). The Kavala and Serres Prefectures belong to the East Macedonia & Thrace Region and the Thessaloniki and Chalkidiki Prefectures belong to the Central Macedonia Region, Greece.

View of the Strymon estuarine system (photo: Koutrakis E.)


When did the process start? Is it ongoing?

1.1.1997 and it is ended on 31.4.2000 (only the Information Centre continues to operate funded by the local municipality)


Who funded and/or initiated it? Is it part of a programme?

Co-funded by the LIFE funding instrument (E.E., DG XI, 50%) and the Greek Ministries of Environment (20%) and Agriculture (30%).
It is part of the EU ICZM Demonstration Programme


What are the key issues, the main problems or conflicts?

Human activities in the area include mass tourism, uncontrolled building, fisheries, aquaculture, agriculture, forestry and mineral extraction. These activities are not always practised wisely leading to increasing environmental problems, such as pollution and landscape deterioration, which will become by far more serious in the next decades, as a result of the expected increase of tourists from the Eastern European countries. Also, mining activities in Chalkidiki are changing and an industry for gold extraction is going to be created in the area, posing additional threats to the environment. The Egnatia highway which will connect the Ionian Sea with Asia is now under construction. Finally, it must be considered that River Strymon may carry pollutants from its Bulgarian and Greek watershed into Strymonikos Gulf.
The area’s principal environmental problems are the lack of planning for urban and tourist development, the disposal of domestic sewage and rubbish, the degradation of surface and ground waters, as well as that of natural habitats, the declining of fish stocks and, finally, the salinity intrusion in River Strymon.

The main problems for implementing ICZM in the area were:

  1. the lack of data regarding the natural environment, the socio-economics and the human impacts,
  2. the complex and conflicting jurisdictions of the bodies presently involved in the management of the area a
  3. the insufficient level of environmental awareness. 

In order to cope with the above problems the following tasks were organised in the project:

  1. Description: This task included a detailed description of the project area, regarding its abiotic, biotic, social, economic and administrative features.
  2. Monitoring: A 24 months monitoring programme of key parameters of the zone's marine environment was conducted, in order to diagnose possible threats and to propose measures for arresting environmental degradation.
  3. Analysis: Based on the results of the two previous tasks, we focused on identifying and ranking environmental problems and threats, evaluating trends of environmental changes, setting conservation and management aims, proposing specific management measures.
  4. Concertation: A coordination scheme in the form of a Steering Committee has been established, involving bodies responsible for the project zone's management, in order to set conservation and management aims, to decide on priority measures and to coordinate their implementation.
  5. Implementation of measures: The main objective of this task was the establishment of an Information Centre for Coastal Zones to support environmental awareness activities, to promote cooperation and to alert authorities on emerging environmental threats.
  6. Environmental awareness and dissemination of knowledge: Publication of awareness material, presentation of the project and of the EU policy regarding the sustainable use of coastal zone resources, organization of conferences on concerted sustainable management of coastal zones, media work and technical publications of the projects results.


Fish sampling: Sampling in the estuarine system of the Strymon river in order to record the fish abundance in the area (photo: Koutrakis E.)


Is the project / process having a follow up.

If not: when did the progress stop and what the main reason was?

The project has ended at 30/4/2000  as it was appointed (36 months + 4 months extension).
A preliminary management plan, including the description of the project area, has been prepared, regarding sites, habitats and species and it was delivered to all parties involved.
Moreover proposals have been made for the area and at national level.
The informal Steering Committee has stopped the meetings because of lack of legal framework. However, the Information Centre, in order to ensure its operation after the end of the project, with all its equipment was granted to the local authorities. Its activities are continued and the attraction of visitors provides an additional income to the local community.
Efforts are currently made to ensure legal and management measures in order to ensure a follow up.


What sort of lessons can be learnt from this example? Characterise briefly

The good knowledge of the environmental, social, economic and administrative features of the area to be managed is the first essential step in planning integrated management and sustainable development, while continuous monitoring is necessary to detect environmental changes.
Coordination in the form of a legally instituted management body is indispensable for the implementation of ICZM. The multi-agency partnership of the Steering Committee used in the Strymonikos project, was just an example for the good operation of a coordination management scheme, since it was informal.
The deficiencies in legislation can pose substantial obstacles in concerted management of the area.
Only a legal binding, either in the form of a directive (e.g. 92/43/EU, 79/409/EU) or of an engagement for the implementation of conventions (e.g. Barcelona Convention), or at national level can promote sustainable management and environmental protection.
The Information Centre, that was created in the area, has been proven a very useful tool for supporting actions of environmental awareness, training, dissemination of information, and for promoting participation of the public and local authorities as well.


Who can provide further information with contacts?

Dr. Emmanuil KOUTRAKIS
National Agricultural Research Foundation
640 07 Nea Peramos, Kavala, Greece
Tel: +30 594 22691-3, Fax: +30 594 22222


Dr. Thalia Lazaridou
Goulandris Natural History Museum
14th Km Thessaloniki – Mihaniona
57001  Thermi, Thessaloniki, Greece
Tel: +30 31 473320, 473432, Fax: +30 31 475694