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Fishes in Greek Seas

Sea, an unknown world filled with mystery and secrets. Sea, the source of life. A great deal of human activities, are happening since ancient times in the Greek seas. Fishery plays a major role. Dozens of fishing equipment and methods are used for the fishing of about 400 different types of fish and other marine organisms. The great length of seashore (about 16.000 kilometres), the great number of bays and islands and the great geographical diversity, have permitted the development of many different biotopes and ecosystems. Thus, we can find types of organisms, which travel great distances in search of food, or for their reproduction, but also types, which spend most of their life buried in the sand or hidden inside rock cavities.

The annual fish production of Greece goes up to about 150.000 tons. The largest part of production is accumulated in few areas (Saronikos. Thermaikos. Cavala Bay, Thracean Open sea, Chalkidiki Bay). The factors contributing to the increased production of these areas are the even and relatively shallow sea crypt which favors fishing with fishing boats, the high levels of nourishing salts in these areas the supply of the rivers in the areas of Thermaikos, Cavala Bay, and Thracean Open sea and final, the influence of the cold current coming in from the Black Sea. Which creates favourable conditions for the mixing of waters. From the 447 fish types found in Greek seas, very few are of commercial interest. About 75% of total Greek marine fish production is constituted only from 17 types. We think it is worthwhile a try to learn a few of the secrets of the most characteristic and most financially important types which one meets in the Greek seas and in the fish markets.

GAVROS Lives in the greater surface area, but it also appears in depths of up to 180 meters. It creates dense flocks and realizes small migrations. It enters salt lakes and mouths of rivers. Curing winter it goes in greater depths, while in the summer it approaches the surface. Its length reaches 20 cm. It feeds on zooplankton. Its reproduction period is from April until October, usually though, during the summer months. It is fished almost exclusively with gri - gri. The least allowed size of the fished gavro is 9 cm.

GOPA It lives near the bottoms, in depths up to 200 meters, in murky, rocky and sandy bottoms and in Posidonias meadows. It's length reaches 36 cm. It creates flocks and realizes daily vertical movements. It feeds on algae. It is reproduced between February and May. Basically, it is fished with gri-gri, nets and fishing boats.

MACKEREL it lives in intermediate levels of water and near the bottoms, in depths up to 250-300 meters, its length reaches 50 cm. It creates flocks and it migrates. It is fed usually with small fish (sardines, gavro etc) and invertebrates. Its reproduction period is from June till August. It is fished usually with gri-gri.

MARIDA The most characteristic fish of the Greek seas (and the Greek diet]. It lives near the bottoms and in depths from 15 to 100 meters, in murky bottoms and in Posidonias meadows. Its length reaches 15-20 cm (female-male). It feeds on plankton and organisms, living on the bottoms. It is reproduced during the months of March and May. It is fished mainly with fishing boat and not as much with gri-gri and nets.

STOCKFISH It lives in the bottoms until several hundreds of meters, mainly at the sea crypt. It creates dense flocks and migrates. The youngsters live even closer to the coasts. Its length reaches 120 cm. It feeds on fish (gavro, marida, sardines etc.). The reproduction period is throughout thy ear. Mainly though in winter and spring. It is fished mainly with fishing boat (at about 70%) as well as with nets and fishing nets. The least allowed size of the fished stockfish is 20 cm.

RED-MULLET It lives in the bottoms and in depths of less than 100 meters. It creates relatively large flocks. Its length reaches 40 cm. It feeds on organisms living on the bottoms and small fish. Its reproduction period is from April till June. It is fished with nets and fishing boats. The least allowed length of the fished red mullet is 11 cm. However, often you'll find in the market much smaller red mullets. Simply ignore them.

SWORD FISH Surface fish of the open sea. It realizes large migrations throughout the Mediterranean Sea, following certain sea currents. Itís fishing and consequently its protection, concerns all the Mediterranean countries. Its length surpasses 4 meters and its weight reaches 500 kgs. It feeds on fish and squids. It lays its eggs during the summer months (June - July) in specific marine areas. Greek fishermen fish this almost exclusively with fishing nets (sword-fish fishing net), whereas Italian fishermen use driftnets, which cause the death of dozens of thousands of dolphins. Turtles, whales and many other marine organisms. For its protections and after a special request from the interested fishermen, its fishing is prohibited from October through January. The least allowed size of the fished swordfish is 120 cm (the "sword" is not included in this length). Actually, the swordfish is found in fish markets all year round, while very often under aged swordfish, of a much smaller size than the one allowed, come up in the markets. Its over fishing has led to the decrease of its stock. Swordfish of 180 kgr represent a distant past.

SARDINES it lives in depths up to 180 meters. It performs daily vertical movements. It creates flocks and migrates. Its length reaches 25 cm. It feeds on zooplankton. The reproduction period expands from September till June, presenting a maximum in autumn and spring. The rest of the period it approaches the seashore where it is fished intensively. Mainly using gri - gri. Because their price in the market is often judged as non-profitable, hundreds of tons of sardines are thrown into the sea each year.

TUNA For many, it is considered as the master of the seas. It is a fish of open seas, which creates flocks and realizes big migrations in all the Mediterranean, following the waters of specific temperatures. Hyperactive fish, especially strong and muscular, with a perfect hydrodynamic shape. Its length reaches 4,5 meters and its weight 650 kgr. It feeds on fish. In the Mediterranean it is reproduced between May and June. The leading word consumer of tuna is Japan, where the largest amount of the Mediterranean, production is exported (including Greece's' as well). The value of a great tuna (witch is the most well known to our fishermen) can easily be estimated to more than 2 millions in the Japanese fish stock market. This explains the intense over fishing of tuna. Every summer, except the Mediterranean owned fishing boats, boats with Korean or Japanese flags, with an opportunity flag or no flag at all, are devoted in the cruel hunt of tuna, targeting the gold bearing fish markets of the East. In Greece, the least allowed fishing size of tuna is 60 cm. Underage red mullets and stockfish are freely sold in the market. Under aged fish of any kind, of microscopic size, are sold as "atherina". The fishery of under aged fish reduces constantly their ability to reproduce and compensate for the loss in their population.

SWORDFISH Despite the protective measures, is fished and sold illegally. For the last tunas in the Mediterranean, the voyage to Japan seems inevitable. The cephalopods, the family of stockfish and the species of Koutsomoura and red-mullet are over fished. Gavros also undergoes over fishing. The need for a management of the stocks of the Greek seas is obvious. Something like that requires the drawing of fishery politics line, political willingness, political and economical cost and practicing of the laws. Any other solution constitutes an ostrich, like behavior. The clouds over fishery are heavy. Lets prevent the storm.

From your side, as consumers, you can help with your active participation in the Green peace crusade for fishery. Deny fish sized less than allowed. Deny fish caught outside the allowed fishing period. Thus, take the first step in a long road, which will insure a future fro, fishery and a future for marine life.

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