Help conserve dolphins and fish stocks on the small Aegean island of Lipsi

Save the dolphins and seals and help the fishing community on the small island of Lipsi in the Aegean Sea


According to legend, many years ago the island of Lipsi was where Ulysses met Kalypso to spend a long and infinite life. From this story the name Lipsi derives from Kalypso.

Lipsi is found in the eastern Aegean Sea in Greece and is home to a wonderful marine biodiversity, which includes many endangered marine mammals. The island has a small population, comprising only 790 inhabitants. Small scale fisheries have long been the basis of this community, providing food and jobs. Many of the islanders are small scale fishermen and with their small boats spend all night, every night working hard at sea.


The dramatic decline in fish stocks over the past decade has caused increasing pressure on both fishermen and marine mammals. Both have the same problem in finding fish and this causes an increase in conflict between small-scale fishermen and marine mammals such as the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) and loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta).


As a result these rare marine animals increasingly take food directly from the nets of small-scale fishermen. Not only does this cause costly damage to the fishermen’s nets, but their catches are also being “stolen” and thus their earnings are reduced. Furthermore, on rare occasions, dolphins and monk seals sometimes can become entangled in the nets and die. This can be detrimental to populations, especially for the already critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal.


Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation ( is working to create a co-managed fisheries protected area around the island by working closely with the local community to give them active role in the protection of their fish stocks.


For this reason an international team of volunteer scientists and students from Archipelagos have been based on the island of Lipsi for the past 5 months and continue to work there in order to collect the necessary data for the creation of this fisheries protected area.


As a short-term solution to reduce the conflict between fishermen and marine mammals, Archipelagos’ scientists are seeking funds that will allow them to replace the fishermen’s small-mesh nets with nets composed of a larger mesh. Marine mammals tend to cause less damage to these, while this type of net is also more selective (i.e. has bigger holes and catches larger fish) and hence contributes to a more sustainable fishery. This helps to reduce conflict between the two groups.


Archipelagos would like to help in reducing the conflict between the small scale fishermen and marine mammals by purchasing and providing the local fishermen with nets of larger mesh. These have two benefits:

First of all, they are less damaged by marine mammals
Secondly, because the larger holes in the nets are more selective, the fishing practice is more sustainable because smaller fish can escape and repopulate the area


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