Experts warn of collapse of sea ecosystems

Marine experts are sounding the alarm over the gradual collapse of fundamental ecosystems in Greece’s seas. 

According to Maria Salomidi, a researcher at the Hellenic Center for Marine Research, 60% of underwater algae forests on reefs have already been lost in Greece.

“We’ve seen the collapse happening for years. In the last decade, however, it has taken on very alarming proportions. It’s not just due to climate change – climate change and the rise of alien species is the icing on the cake. I am very afraid of what all this means for our seas,” she told Kathimerini.

There are two main causes for this collapse, she says: The first, most importantly in the northern Aegean, is the huge spread of herbivorous sea urchins, which graze uncontrollably like goats.

“Although the urchin can’t attack mature and well-developed kelp forests, it does prevent their natural regeneration. When the original population completes its natural life cycle (depending on species it can vary from a few years to a few decades), there is no next generation to replace it,” Salomidi states.

The second reason – more important in the south Aegean but also in the Ionian – is the overabundance of herbivorous fish, and invasive species. The reason for this, she notes, is the decimation of the top predators, the big fish, from chronic overfishing.

Experts say the solution to this problem, as in the wider Mediterranean, is not just to limit fishing, but to begin reforestations.

Source: Ekathimerini.com

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