Together with Aegean Rebreath we are committed to breathing more life into the seas
We are excited about our recent partnership with the Greek marine conservation organization Aegean Rebreath. Together we will work together in the areas of marine conservation, awareness raising, education and training and data production. This includes strengthening capacities and training local communities and authorities on issues of blue economy and sustainable development.
The Athens-based NGO Aegean Rebreath, which works to protect the seas in general and the Aegean in particular, emerged in 2017 from a grassroots movement to respond to the urgent need to clean the seabed and protect biodiversity of the Aegean Sea, which is undoubtedly at risk from the inappropriate disposal of waste at sea.
Initially, a small group of active citizens launched underwater and coastal cleanup operations. Within a short time they gained the interest and support of citizens and various organizations, which led to an expansion of the work. The NGO is now well networked in politics, science and business.
In 2022 it was recognized as NGO of the Year in Greece, since it has set up a holistic circular economy model with the “Blue Municipalities” Network to combat marine ecosystem pollution among other things. This national community network is the first to focus on protecting the marine environment. The basis for this are marine waste stations, which help citizens and fishermen to dispose collected marine waste (from the seabed, from the sea and from the coasts). This initiative surpassed 472 other projects in the Advocate Europe “Challenge of Democracy in Europe” competition and took the first place. The marine debris collection stations are very important to strengthen relationships with fishermen and coastal communities, increase environmental awareness of citizens, promote the innovative approach to recycling and upcycling of marine debris, and collect data of scientific interest. These in turn make it easier to implement numerous measures, because without data no assessment can take place.
The municipalities, in turn, in collaboration with Aegean Rebreath, are responsible for monitoring waste and distributing it to recycling, upcycling and waste disposal companies to use it to produce new products.
At the same time, the organization works with fishing communities and municipalities across Greece to carry out environmental education courses and research activities.
The marine debris that Aegean Rebreath collects through its underwater and coastal activities – for example through diving activities – also feeds it into its circulatory system:
Over the past five years, Aegean Rebreath's 300 volunteer divers have removed more than 28 tons of nets and hundreds of thousands of plastic bags from Greek waters. You can see what such a diving action looks like here.
In addition, the volunteers are involved – among other things – in the following impact initiatives:
- “Small actions, big crimes” – an initiative that raises awareness against the reckless disposal of cigarette butts and collects real-time data on the disposal of cigarette butts in the marine environment
"Crime Scene" installation in which a realistic replica of a giant cigarette was placed next to victims from the marine environment – such as fish and turtles – to raise public awareness of environmental protection.
For the first time in Greece, measurements were carried out using advanced satellite systems to map the points where the problem of reckless disposal of cigarette butts was detected.
The beaches and port of Rafina were identified as the areas most contaminated with cigarette butts.
- A nationwide study into microplastics on beaches
- Providing recycling bins for plastic, glass and aluminum on 10 beaches of Antiparos, consisting of the recycled material from 400 kg of bottle caps collected there, so that people can sort directly at the source
- “Recycle your Sail” – a waste separation project that managed to get 25 % of sailboats docked in Vlychada, Santorini, to separate their waste
- In the EU co-financed adult education program Erasmus+ “Supporting Fishing Waste Reduction and Marine Systems Preservation in European Islands and Coastal Areas, BLUE-ISLES”. The project aims to reduce fishing and aquaculture waste on islands and coastal areas in southern Europe. To this end, the knowledge and skills of fishery and aquaculture workers as well as responsible municipal employees are being improved regarding the introduction of sustainable practices in the above-mentioned sectors. The project's data and results will contribute to the development of training materials, awareness raising and policy planning proposals to address the problem of marine litter in island and coastal areas of Europe. The report resulting from the project also presents the attitudes and knowledge of fisheries and aquaculture workers regarding marine litter and innovative sustainability practices in the sector, as well as the level of cooperation between them and municipal environmental staff in several island municipalities in the five participating countries (Malta, Cyprus, Italy, Spain, Greece).
- A campaign in Thessaloniki consisting of four pillars:
- Removal of marine debris using a marine drone
- Placement of an informative outdoor LED screen to raise public awareness through systematic monitoring and presentation of data. The screen, installed in a central location in the coastal zone of Thessaloniki, is updated by the municipality's Ministry of Environment with data on the water quality of the Thermaikos Gulf and the monthly recycling rates of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, as well as the amount of waste collected by the sea drone. Additionally, the campaign graphic “Act on land before trash reaches our seas” will be displayed on the screen.
- Awareness campaign for coffee shop owners and staff to make them aware of the added value of recycling and the reduction of single-use plastics so that the packaging of their products, which is largely still made of single-use plastics, does not end up in the sea
- Installation of garbage nets in rivers and stormwater drains to prevent garbage from entering the Thermaikos Gulf:
- Tap Water Promotion – an initiative to reduce single-use plastics, as 25 % of the trash on Greece's seabeds and beaches comes from plastic water bottles. This was done by studying the interest of the local community of Alonissos in installing 22 reverse osmosis filters in schools, municipal services, hotels, restaurants and private homes. Using an electronic questionnaire, residents were asked to express their interest and provide necessary information for the installation of the devices.
Aegean Rebreath's initiatives have already been widely reported in the international press. A selection of video reports can be found here.
Anyone who would like to support the NGO is warmly invited, because in addition to professional and amateur divers, oceanologists, fish scientists, environmentalists, engineers, economists, executives with experience in implementing programs with environmental and social impact and active citizens, the team is always eager to work with individuals to develop and implement new ideas.
We are very pleased to be advancing our commitment in the area of marine protection with this active organization and are happy to be able to present the first projects soon.