Abstract

Objectives are to (1) characterize the current status of and threats to freshwater fish habitats, native fishes, and fisheries in Greece; (2) canvas the states and priorities of fisheries science, legislation, and regulations for freshwater habitats and their fishes/fisheries; (3) indicate priority gaps in freshwater fish habitat management; and (4) comment on planning and managing strategies for freshwater aquatic resources and fishes in Greece. Freshwater fishes total 126 species (58 % endemic), 19 of which are introductions. Inland fishery production (about 700 t in 1999) has steadily decreased (due to overfishing, habitat alteration, and pollution) for the past 40 years while marine fisheries have increased from ∼12000 to 30000 t in 30 years (1964-1994). Population declines and extirpation of fish species and their habitats have been related to dam construction and operation, stream channelization, canalization, pollution, and stream desiccation, a result of water abstraction for crop irrigation and diversion of river and stream waters for potable waters supplies of urban and rural areas. Published information on habitat requirements (i.e., spawning habitat, spawning behavior, nursery areas, foraging ranges, vegetative cover, and migration) of freshwater fishes in Greece is limited. Absence of coordination among ministries and an increased market-based economy have resulted in low conservation priorities and investments for freshwater environs. Conservation programs and action plans have been implemented in Greece only recently for two endemic fish species (Pungitius hellenicus and Ladigesocypris ghigii) compared to 14 for other vertebrate species. Regardless of environmental statues and presidential decrees since 1970, there is no current established national action plan to improve and integrate aquatic environments and natural habitat management in a growing market-based economic strategic plan. Recommendations for the creation of an integrated, national action plan that incorporates environmental costs of protecting freshwater aquatic habitats and fish communities in sustainable economic policies and goals of Greece, an European fringe country experiencing significant competition in the international marketplace are presented.

This content is only available as a PDF.