Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 38 - 2006

 

World Coal, Ship Finance, forums, conferences, summits - Athens is the place

 Mare Forum Greece: 25-26 September 2006, Astir Palace Vouliagmeni. Tel: +31 10 281 06 55, info@ mareforum.com
 DNV Piraeus conference: "Human Element in Shipping", 26 September 2006, Tel: 210 41 00 200
 Germanischer Lloyd (GL): Maritime regulations and latest amendments, one-day seminar, the Metropolitan Hotel - Athens, 27 September 2006. Contact: Agamemnon Apostolidis, Tel: 210-4290373
 Lloyd's Register half-day workshop on Port State Control: 28 September 2006. Contact: Mrs. Jenny Filippakou, Tel: 210 4580 819, piraeus.training@lr.org
 Marine Money Greek Ship Finance Forum: 12 October 2006, Ledra Marriott - Tel +30 210 9858 809, mia@marine-marketing.gr, www.marinemoney.com
 TMSA in Tanker Operations conference: 18 October, 2006, Athens, www.tankeroperator.com
 4th Ann. Digital Ship Athens - October 19-20, 2006, www.thedigitalship.com
 26th Coaltrans - World Coal Conference: 22-25 October 2006, Athens Hilton, www.coaltrans.com
 Greek Shipping Summit 2006: 3 November 2006, Grand Bretagne, Athens, www.greekshippingsummit.com
Source: Compiled from Internet and Press releases sent to news.desk@marine-marketing.gr


Seaplane operator widens operations in Greece
---ATHENS - Greco-Canadian seaplane operator AirSea Lines has won a contract from the Greek government to operate flights to the Cyclades islands and the northern Aegean, the government said on Thursday.
The flights from Lavrion, south of Athens, will begin as soon as the necessary permits and other formalities have been organised, the government said in a statement. There will be up to three flights per day.
AirSea Lines began operating in September 2004 in the Ionian region, with scheduled flights between the islands of Corfu and Paxoi, and from July 2005 from Corfu to Ioannina in mainland Greece.
It plans a widening of its operations in the Ionian Sea, the picturesque region west of mainland Greece home to popular tourist islands such as Zakynthos, Kefallonia and Ithaca.
The firm aims to become the leading seaplane operator in Greece and ultimately the rest of Europe, according to its website.
Source: Published: 9/21/2006, http://www.turkishpress.com/


WISTA Hellas: Women in Shipping Scholarship Series
---WISTA Hellas is very proud to announce the launching for the first time of 'Women in Shipping Scholarship Series' initiated with the kind and valuable support of ALBA Graduate Business School.
ALBA is a non-profit educational organisation. It was founded through a joint initiative of the Federation of Greek Industries, the leading Employers' Union in Greece, and the Hellenic Management Association; both the preparation for the creation of ALBA and its operations are funded by the European Commission and the contributions offered by its Corporate Members. Since February 1995, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) joined the Federation of Greek Industries and the Hellenic Management Association to become the third collective body of Greek businesses under whose auspices ALBA now operates.
The 'Women in Shipping Scholarship Series' coincides with one of the main objectives of WISTA, to support women that wish to pursue a professional career in the maritime sector and promote the continuing education and networking opportunities of women involved in shipping.
Within these lines and recognizing the continuous increase and importance of women working in the maritime sector, ALBA Graduate Business School offers, through WISTA Hellas, two partial scholarships in the form of financial aid (50% of the tuition fees) for two women working in the maritime sector.
In case the scholarship holder(s) achieve(s) academic distinction (GPA above 3.5 at Program completion), they will be reimbursed the full amount of tuition fees (full scholarship).
'Women in Shipping Scholarship Series', refer to the Academic year 2006-2007, starting in November 2006 with the second intake of the ALBA MBA in Shipping Program.
WHO SHOULD APPLY - Admission Criteria
The following persons are entitled to apply for the Scholarships:
NOTE: Being a WISTA member is not a prerequisite in order to apply.
> Priority Criteria
Upon complying with the minimum standards given above, for candidates of equal qualifications, priority will be given to:
Finally, with the opportunity of this announcement, WISTA Hellas would like to thank the Board of ALBA Graduate Business School for their valuable support to the women working in the Shipping sector and hereby wish that 'Women in Shipping Scholarship Series' will only be the commencement of a creative and effective cooperation.
We also wish, this initiative to inspire further similar actions that will contribute to the continuous improvement and the achievement of a high educational level of women working in the Maritime sector.
APPLICATIONS ARE TO BE SUBMITTED DIRECT THROUGH ALBA WEBSITE TO: www.alba.edu.gr For more information on the ALBA MBA in Shipping and the 'Women in Shipping Scholarship Series', you may contact Ms. Antonina Kalkavoura, tel.: +30-210-8964531, e-mail: shipping@alba.edu.gr, or visit: www.alba.edu.gr/academic/shipping
Should you have any question and we can help you, do not hesitate to contact with Mrs. Areti Laiou of WISTA Hellas, tel.: +30-210-8951680, or e-mail: wista-gr@otenet.gr.
Source: Email Announcement 18/9/2006


Greece: Ferries to have doctors on board.
---Any trip that is over 120 nautical miles will have a doctor onboard, to cover any health problems. The most common ailments at sea are accidents, strokes, heart problems and also unbelievably childbirth.
Greek citizens have requested doctors on board ferries, especially on the routes to and from the numerous Greek islands to increase safety on the journeys. 23 doctors join the ferry staff in this new initiative, which also sees ferry companies obliged to have a designated cabin for medical treatment.
Source: Published 2006-09-19, http://www.zanteweb.co.uk


Greece's ANEK Lines to propose 101.5 mln eur rights issue at Oct 6 EGM
---ATHENS (AFX) - Greek passenger shipper ANEK Lines said its board of directors will propose a 101.5 mln eur rights issue at its Oct 6 extraordinary general meeting.
The company said 17 new shares will be offered for every 10 shares held at 1.05 eur each.
About 82 mln eur of the funds raised will be used to acquire or modify vessels which will deployed on routes to the island of Crete, and 20 mln eur will be used to reduce the group's debt.
The remaining funds will be used to participate in other shipping companies. Industry sources said that ANEK is likely to bid for Minoan Lines' 33.3 pct stake in Hellenic Seaways.
AFX News Limited Source: Euro2day.gr NewsWire
Source: www.forbes.com, 09.21.2006, 07:21 AM


Greek carriers swell coffers
---Three Greek passenger-shipping outfits are taking out chunky loans to fund expansion.
As much as $580m could be in the pipeline for fleet expansion at several Greek passenger-shipping companies jostling for a bigger market share.
Listed operator Nel Lines will hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on 3 October to seek shareholder approval of its plan to increase its share capital by EUR 93.5m ($118.5m). Already in July, the company's annual general meeting (AGM) approved the issue of a convertible bond loan of EUR 90m.
Nel has already fared quite well financially this year, having won an out-of-court settlement last week for compensation of EUR 10m ($12.8m) from French engine manufacturer SEMT Pielstick after it launched a case claiming EUR 89.75m in damages arising from problems with the main engines on three of its vessels. The Lesbos-headquartered company also managed to work out an agreement on outstanding debt to a syndicate of banks led by Calyon that profited Nel by close to EUR 60m.
This helped the company post a first-half net profit of EUR 37.4m, as compared with a EUR 7.07m loss in the same period of 2005.
Three days after Nel goes to its shareholders, an EGM called by another listed passenger operator, Anek Lines, will ask its shareholders to approve a EUR 106.63m share-capital increase. Like its competitor, Anek got the green light for a convertible bond loan of EUR 140m in June.
A convertible bond was also the instrument used by non-listed Hellenic Seaways (HSW) to raise EUR 30m this month for the construction of its fast ferry Nissos Chios . In HSW's case, the 10-year bond was fully covered by French lender Natexis Banques Populaires. The Nissos Chios is a 1,800-passenger vessel set to be launched in October and ready to go into service next summer season.
However, for the two listed companies the hustling for funds is aimed at expansion either through the acquisition of assets or through buying chunks of competitors. Liberalisation in the sector has honed competition, while once-profitable Adriatic routes have produced losses for companies operating there.
Nel has already put a bid on the table to buy the 33.31% stake in HSW owned by Minoan Lines. The company offered EUR 2.90 per share, which was topped by shipowner Panos Laskaridis, at EUR 2.95 per share. But no decision has yet been announced. Laskaridis already has a 17.28% stake in HSW as well as a 5.2% holding in Minoan.
Anek says it intends to use EUR 20.42m of the net amount it expects to raise from its capital increase to write down debt but EUR 81.71m will be used to acquire new vessels or for other investments. The company adds that its focus is on enlarging its market share.
Earlier this year, in an analysis of the sector, business consultant XRTC questioned whether it might be worth buying companies rather than buying ships and that it expected to see an answer in the coming year.
Meanwhile, interest in Greek passenger shipping from outside the country appears to be growing. Increasingly frequent reports suggest that private-equity company BC Partners is considering taking stakes in two leading listed Greek groups, Attica Holdings and Minoan Lines.
By Gillian Whittaker, Athens, published: 22 September 2006
Source: www.tradewinds.no


---In a deal that may serve to further threaten the near monopoly that the German KG market has had on providing operating lease financing for the global container industry, this week Danaos Corporation filed its longawaited IPO prospectus to raise $205-$226 million through the sale of 10,250,000 shares at a target price range of $20-$22 per share.
The company has another 16 ships and 84,704TEU on order that will be financing through this deal, implying a guaranteed growth rate of 73%. He has successfully built a billion dollar company in 20 years - without breaking a sweat as far as we can tell. Serious, smart and aggressive.
Danaos now consists of 27 existing containerships that average 11.4 years in age along with nine vessels currently under construction. Merrill Lynch and Citigroup are running the books on the deal, with Dahlman Rose, Jefferies, Fortis and Nomura also acting as underwriters.
The Valuation
The IPO is coming to market with a mid-range EV/EBITDA valuation of 9.5x and a price/book value of 3x. We have not performed a charterfree valuation of the fleet nor do we think it is the appropriate technique for valuing this company. Planned quarterly dividends of $0.44 per share would yield 8.4%. What is interesting about this is that although Mr. Coustas and nominees will not receive any of the immediate proceeds of this offering, since his shares are not subordinated the 80% of the company that they will retain post offering will be entitled to dividends of about $76 million per year.
To read the full report on Danaos, go to www.marinemoney.com - Freshly Minted weekly online. Non-subscribers may contact Marine Money Greece for a trial password. Email: marine.money@marine-marketing.gr
Source: www.marinemoney.com - Freshly Minted weekly online


Diana Shipping Inc. Assumes Shipbuilding Contracts For Two Capesize Dry Bulk Carriers
---ATHENS, Greece, September 18, 2006 - Diana Shipping Inc. (NYSE:DSX), a global shipping transportation company specializing in dry bulk cargoes, today announced that it has assumed shipbuilding contracts from two unaffiliated parties for the construction of two Capesize dry bulk carriers of approximately 175,000 dwt each for a price of $60.4 million each. The vessels will be constructed by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. and Diana Shipping Inc. expects to take delivery of the vessels during the second quarter of 2010.
The Company also announced that it has accepted a Commitment Letter from Fortis Bank for a secured term loan of $62 million which the Company will use to pay the pre-delivery installments of these two newbuilding dry bulk carriers. An affiliate of Fortis Bank is a shareholder of the Company. There will be no principal payments on this loan before delivery of the ships, at which time this loan may be refinanced. Interest on this facility during the construction period of the ships will be capitalized and included in the construction cost of the ships being acquired. As such, this interest will not affect the Company's calculation of the quarterly dividend per share.
Source: http://www.dianashippinginc.com


Eletson books four LPG carriers in major diversification
After days of rumours, Eletson said September 19 it was behind an order for a quartet of LPG/NH3 carriers, marking its debut in the gas trade. A day earlier the shipyard said it had secured an order for four 35,000cumtr units worth KRW 237.1bn ($248m). The four LPG carriers are slated for delivery by the end of 2009 and are the largest gas ships to be contracted at the yard which only made its gas debut in July with an order for six 20,600cumtr ships, three each for AP Moller-Maersk and Zodiac Maritime.
At the end of July, Eletson announced a contract at Hyundai Mipo for construction of four, option two, 52,000dwt, hi-spec, product tankers for delivery second half 2009/first quarter of 2010. Commercial terms were not disclosed, but a tag of $46m has been put on them by brokers, which Vasilis A. Hadjieleftheriadis told Newsfront was about right. Prior to the confirmation from Eletson, Athens-based Naftomar was being linked to the reports of the order.
Eletson said its move into LPG "marks its new growth strategy into a sector expected to play an increasingly important role in the global gas and energy supply picture". Eletson said it will go into the gas sector applying the "same values and commitment" as it has in the market of product tankers.
"The LPG venture will build on the strengths of an experienced product tanker operation and help the company maintain a leading status in maritime transportation of energy in the future," said Eletson which presently owns and operates one of the world's largest fleets of medium and long range product tankers. The fleet consists of 25 double hull Greek-flag vessels with a combined capacity of over 1.63m dwt.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 22 September 2006 Vol. 7 / No. 35


Global Oceanic Carriers acquires two more ships, appoints new adviser
---LONDON (AFX) - Global Oceanic Carriers Ltd, the AIM-listed Greek dry bulk shipping company, said it is acquiring two more ships and is proposing to enter into new ship management agreements for its entire fleet.
The company, which did not disclose the value of the deal nor disclose the terms of the management proposal, added it has appointed Jefferies International as its sole nominated adviser and broker with immediate effect. newsdesk@afxnews.com wj
Source: http://www.hemscott.com


Omega Navigation to Sell 2 Vessels
The company said it intends to use about half of the proceeds pay down existing debt and might use the remainder to invest further in its tanker business. Proceeds could also fund general corporate purposes, the company said.
Named the "Ekavi I" and the "Electra I," the dry bulk carriers are Handymax-size vessels built in 2004. Omega Navigation expects to deliver the vessels an unnamed buyer by Jan. 15.
The company's present fleet of tankers comprises four Panamax-size vessels and two Handymax-size vessels.
Omega Navigation Chief Executive George Kassiotis said the tanker sector, or crude oil shipping, offers the most robust fundamentals in the shipping business.
Shares of Omega were recently up 10 cents to $15.40 in Nasdaq trading.
Source: Sept. 22, 2006, 10:18AM, http://www.chron.com, The Associated Press


Quintana Maritime Prices Kamsarmax Vessels at Average of $25,000 per Day for 2007
---19 Sep. 2006. Quintana Maritime Limited (NASDAQ: QMAR) announced today that it priced its two remaining Kamsarmaxes, Iron Brooke (ex Bulk 16) and Iron Manolis (ex Bulk 17), under its master time charter with Bunge S.A. at an average daily rate of $25,000 per day for 2007. These vessels, which Quintana has agreed to acquire from Metrobulk, are expected to be delivered to Quintana ex yard between March and May 2007.
Having priced these two Kamsarmaxes, Quintana Maritime has fixed the rates for all seventeen vessels it has acquired or has agreed to acquire from Metrobulk. For 2007, seven Kamsarmaxes and two Panamaxes have been fixed at an average daily rate of $23,000, five Kamsarmaxes have been fixed at an average daily rate of $20,000 and two Kamsarmaxes have been fixed at an average daily rate of $25,000. An additional Panamax, Grain Harvester (ex Bulk 3), is already on time charter with Bunge through September 2009 at $20,000 per day and was delivered to Quintana earlier this month. The master charter agreement with Bunge S.A calls for annual renewals in early November every year, between floor and ceiling rates, and lasts through the end of 2010.
As a result of these fixtures, Quintana has secured almost 89% of its expected net operating days for 2007 under charters with fixed rates. Quintana believes it currently enjoys the highest time charter coverage amongst its public peers.
Stamatis Molaris, President and Chief Executive Officer of Quintana Maritime, commented, "We are very pleased to announce that we have by now priced under the master agreement with Bunge all seventeen vessels we have acquired or agreed to acquire from Metrobulk. We have concluded the pricing of these fixtures well ahead of the scheduled price negotiations with Bunge and prior to the delivery of most of these vessels to Quintana. Furthermore, as we have priced these fixtures in stages, we have been able to share into the market's continued upside.
"Our fleet deployment strategy demonstrates the advantages of the unique structure of the Bunge master agreement, which enables us to enhance the stability and predictability of our earnings, while at the same time to share into the market's strength. This is within the context of our strategy of pursuing stable growth with consistent delivery of dividends to our shareholders."
In addition, Quintana took delivery of its sixth Kamsarmax bulk carrier, Ore Hansa, from Metrobulk. Ore Hansa has a carrying capacity of 82,224 deadweight tons (dwt) and was built in April 2006 at Tsuneishi, a Japanese shipyard. To date, Quintana Maritime has taken delivery of seven vessels out of the total of seventeen vessels it has agreed to acquire from Metrobulk.
As previously announced, Ore Hansa, together with eight other vessels, is employed under a master time charter agreement with Bunge S.A. at an average daily rate of approximately $23,000 for 2007.
Source: http://interestalert.com


New shipping hedge fund sets ambitious $200m target
---A NEW shipping hedge fund is being launched today with ambitions to amass $200m under management within 18 months, writes Tony Gray.
Global Maritime Investments is managed by M2M Management, whose joint managing directors, Stuart Rae and Steve Rodley, have extensive experience in the shipping industry.
Although specialist hedge funds already exist in shipping M2M believes that Global Maritime Investments will be the first to trade in both physical and futures markets.
The fund will focus on the dry bulk market and initially on the panamax sector. Involvement in the capesize and handymax markets is expected to follow in a six-to-12-month timeframe.
M2M argues that there have been dramatic structural changes to the freight market in recent years, leading to a significant increase in the volatility of shipping rates and the liquidity of related derivatives.
Mr Rodley and Mr Rae said investors had made it known that they were willing to commit further capital after the fund had a track record of between three months and a year under its belt.
They explained that the the fund was not dependent on high or low freight markets: exploiting volatility was the key.
The fund will be managed by M2M from offices in London and Greece.
The management team also comprises Paul Barbour, chief financial officer, Dr Phil Drew, senior analyst and risk manager, and Panayiotis Kontos, director of M2M Hellas.
Additionally, M2M has an office manager and outsourced marine operations.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Monday September 25 2006


Hellenic Shipping News interviews Alexis Mamidakis
---The activites of the group cover three sectors, trading of oil products, hotel-tourism sector and shipping. The group is operating in the oil product sector since 1952 and since 1968 though Mamidoil , while Jetoil was founded in 1970. The two companies were later merged under Jetoil, which maintains a wide range of filling stations. In addition, Jetoil holds also a significant position in the bunkering (marine fuel) market, headquartered at Piraeus Port.
The Mamidakis Group, with a long standing presence in the sectors of bunkering, oil product trade as well as those of shipping tourism, continues its growth. In his interview, Mr. Alexis Mamidakis is mentioning that the focus is now on the development of the fleet of supply vessels, through Jetank, as well as of the ocean-going vessels, which are managed by STYGA. In fact, Jetank is currently building a 1,000 dwt vessel at Perama Zone, in co-operation with a private shipyard, while further orders are expected.
What is the position of Mamidakis Group in the sector of fuelling (bunkering)?
In the last 4 years, Jetoil is in the position of the bunkering sector in Greece, after EKO. During 2005, sales reached 600.000tn, compared to 533.000tn in 2004. Jetank, subsidiary company, is the owner of seven small tankers, which deliver oil products. The major of the above mentioned fleet is employed in bunkering and a minor one in the supply of the network of filling stations on islands. In addition, the group has invested in new buildings and currently three ships are under construction. We are the only company that provides a complete range of bunkering services independently, while we import products apart from using local refineries for supply purposes. In addition, we are in the position to control the complete range of services, from the quality and the quantity of fuel, to delivery and safety.
Could you provide us some detais regarding the size of the supplying vessels of the Jetank fleet?
Currently, as i have already mentioned, we own seven vessels, whsoe size is ranging from 600 to 3.00 dwt. On top of these, we are building three additional vesels, two of them in China (1.000 dwt) and the third one in Greece, of equivalent size. We have concluded an agreement with a private company, a private shipyard of Perama and we are particularly satisfied by the outcome, as the construction is to be completed in two months. Therefore, we have the intention of building two additional vessels, larger than 1.000 dwt in the same shipyard in Perama.
You arealso active in merchant shipping through Styga Compania Naviera.
Yes, that is true. Styga is the management company of vessels, each one is controlled, as you know, by individual companies, which in turn are controlled by the group. From 1968 till today, the main area of activity was the tanker market, apart from a period of 5 years, when we also operated some dry bulk vessels. Today, the company is operating two modern tankers, one 76.000 dwt panamax, built in 1996 and 47.000 dwt product tanker built in 2002. During the last decade, the group's ships became old and therefore we decided to initiate a fleet renewal. Of course, such a decision requires substantial capital, especially due to the big increase of ship's prices. Ideally, we are targeting a total fleet of 4-5 vessels, because the capital spread of the Group does not allow us heavier investments.
Would you pursue a fleet development through new buildings or through the purchase of second-hand vessels?
There are discussions and prospects with some shipyards in Far East Asia for an order. But we are looking at and we prefer the purchase of second-hand vessels, because - in view of the past yaers' returns (even today after the relative decrease of freight rates) - we believe that a ship can be profitable the day after. On top of this, new buildings require many years till the delivery of the vessel, apart from the case than an under-construction ship building contract is purchased, which costs much more. In any case, we are interested in product carriers and tankers with sizes ranging from aframax up to panamax.
How do you interpret the current floatation trend of an increasing number of shipping companies in the stock exchange?
I would say that i do not separate shipping from the other sectors of the stock exchange.I was not particularly impressed by the way this floatation 'trend' of a shipping company started. As a company, we have not examined such a business move, because it is not in accordance with the way we would like to operate.
Do yo believe that the efforts of the Greek stock exchange Board to attract ocean-going shipping companies will be succesful?
I believe it is important, but maybe the approach utilised could have been better. It is not clear which are the advantages of such a move for a company. On the other hand, i believe that the Grteek stock market could - without being implicit - accommodate the capital needs of a shipping company. I repeat that if the approach is appropriate funds - even from abroad - can be raised. It is an issue of right promotion and incentives, because the shipowner would like to see the share of his company to have the chance to grow and therefore an indirect support of the authorities is also required.
Source: http://www.hellenicshippingnews.com, 19/09/06 Mamidakis Group.


Legendary Greek Ship to Set Sail Again
---The Greek legend of Jason and the Argonauts is an epic tale of a voyage in search for the Golden Fleece. Now, more than three thousand years later, shipbuilders in the Greek port of Volos have recreated Jason's mythical vessel, piecing together images from ancient vase paintings and wall frescos to design the ship.
What took Jason and his 50 Argonauts three months to build in the 14th century BC took three Greek shipbuilders more than three years, as they abandoned electric tools to build it in the ancient style. The Argo was built by bending whole trees into the hull, with wooden pegs used to hold it together instead of nails.
The boat was christened in Volos last Sunday with a clay jug full of red wine in keeping with ancient Greek form. It is hoped that its journey up the Black Sea coast willl begin next year; a 2,500km journey powered by 50 rowers with no motor and no modern comforts. Legend has it the 28 metre (92ft) ship was rowed by warriors and helped along the Black Sea by the ancient Greek gods as it encountered monsters, sirens and nymphs before finding the dragon-guarded fleece on the coast of Georgia.
Modern day 'Argonauts' will have to take the oars for 10 to 15 hours a day; organisers have issued an open invitation to rowers across Europe to participate, so anyone brave enough to take up the challenge can volunteer for the trip.
Source: http://www.yachtingmonthly.com, 20 September 2006


Mediterranean becomes an endangered playground
---Not just a playground for tourists, the Mediterranean is a shared space of vast complexity - with problems to match.
A coastline of 46,000 kilometers, or 28,600 miles, including its many islands, is shared by 22 countries. By 2025 coastal populations are likely to rise by a fifth to 176 million, according to a technical report prepared this year for the United Nations Environment Program, while seasonal tourism could hit 300 million a year.
Nearly 40 percent of the Mediterranean seashore is already built up and 4,000 kilometers of natural coastline will disappear by 2025 without better planning, the report said.
Half the Mediterranean's major cities of more than 100,000 inhabitants have no wastewater management systems, while shipping discharges about 250,000 metric tons of oil into the sea every year. Almost a quarter of global tanker traffic passes through the Mediterranean and its narrow straits, and the traffic is rising. Total shipping volumes could rise fourfold in the next two decades, the report said.
More than 100 native species in the region are already endangered while unwanted alien species are turning up in ports and lagoons, often introduced by ships using the Suez Canal. EU and UN environmental agencies have identified biological invasions as a priority threat, along with unsustainable fishing and harmful algae blooms.
In 1976, the EU and 14 governments signed a convention and action plan to protect the Mediterranean against pollution. In 1995 the governments also agreed to cooperate on preserving biodiversity, and to establish protected areas of special importance. In 1996 an advisory committee on sustainable development was added, and last year the commission adopted a sustainable development strategy. Now the governments are drafting an accord on the integrated management of coastal areas.
In 1999 France, Italy and Monaco established a protected area for whales and other marine mammals, the Pelagos sanctuary, in 87,000 square kilometers, or 34,000 square miles, of national and international waters around the coasts of Corsica and Sardinia - "the first time three countries have joined forces to develop concrete solutions to reduce negative impacts on cetaceans in the high seas," said Philippe Robert, executive secretary of the sanctuary.
Targets agreed jointly in 2003 aim to expand protected areas in the Mediterranean by 50 percent by 2012, and to protect 20 percent of the coast as marine fishery reserves.
Tullio Scovazzi, an international law professor at Milan University, said that 13 Mediterranean States have declared extended zones for fisheries, ecological protection or archaeological purposes in which they can take direct measures for environmental management.
Yet the practical success stories remain few, and even where national jurisdiction is well established, entrenched opposition can thwart conservation efforts.
The Greek island of Zakynthos harbors an internationally protected breeding site for endangered loggerhead turtles; but 25 years of campaigning by Medasset, a conservation group based in Athens, and a European Court ruling, have failed to halt illegal construction there. "It's a fiasco," said Lily Venizelos, the president of Medasset.
Good plans "remain largely paperwork," said Paolo Lombardi, Mediterranean program director for WWF, the World Wildlife Fund. "Mediterranean countries are trashing their coastlines."
Source: By Clare Shine International Herald Tribune, Published: September 19, 2006