Allowing Coexistence of Monk Seals with Tourism in Formicula through Science-Based Management

Timeframe: 2021 - 2024
Country/Region: Islet of Formicula, Inner Ionian Sea Archipelago, Greek Ionian Islands, Greece
Partner: Tethys Research Institute

The Inner Ionian Sea Archipelago, located off the West coast of Greece, offers a critical habitat to various marine mammals including the common dolphin, the bottlenose dolphin, and the Mediterranean monk seal. A Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) has been declared in the archipelago and a management plan is under development. The islet of Formicula, located within the SAC, is one of the world’s few places where monk seals can be predictably and regularly encountered.

The waters around Formicula are also used regularly by fishers and tourists and their disturbance to the monk seals’ critical habitat must be mitigated by concrete management actions so that the presence of the species can be maintained and secured. Quick action in the Ionian Islands is probably even more urgent than elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

This is the second project implemented by the Tethys Institute in the archipelago with support from our foundation. The project seeks to consolidate management and conservation activities addressing tourist disturbance specifically around Formicula’s waters.

The priority actions involve:

  • Support the SAC management body with the design and implementation of an action plan to specifically address marine mammal threats through regulations and enforcement.
  • Address the behaviours of local stakeholders such as small-scale fishermen and tourist operators through awareness, involvement and cooperative activities.