Mediterranean Wetlands Conference, June 5th-9th 1996, Venice, Italy

Ecological Approach to the Management of the Natural Resources of an Ionian Coastal Ecosystem (Gialova Lagoon, Peloponese, S.W. Greece)



1: Institute of Marine Biology of Crete, 71003, Iraklion, Crete, Greece
2: Romanos, 24001, Pilos, Peloponesse, Greece
3: Fisheries Research Centre, Nea Peramos, 64007, Kavala, Greece


The Gialova lagoon, a small Ionian coastal ecosystem situated in S.W. Greece, with a surface area of 2.5 km2, is one of the 10 major lagoons in Greece (ANANIADIS, 1984). The Gialova lagoon constitutes a wetland of particular value in many respects (cultural, fisheries, biological and scientific, aesthetic and recreational). The Gialova as a wetland has been classified as one of the important bird areas in Europe (GRIMLET & JONES, 1984).
An appropriate management plan for the rational exploitation of the resources of the lagoon, in the framework of a conservation scheme, remains an important ecological challenge. To pursue such an objective a detailed knowledge of the mechanisms controlling the function of the ecosystems is necessary. The Institute of Marine Biology of Crete (I.M.B.C.) has carried out a multi-disciplinary study of the brackish and marine ecosystem of the area, along with an ecological survey focused on the avifauna, an important component of the wetland ecosystem. The study began one year after a severe oil spill had occurred in October 1993, resulting in the extensive mortality of fishes and benthic organisms, such as bivalve molluscs, shrimps and crabs in Gialova lagoon (PAPOUTSOGLOU, 1993).
The data obtained from this study give a preliminary overview of the Gialova wetland. The impact of the oil incident in the Gialova lagoon, although it did have a significant effect on the ecosystem, was not severe enough to disrupt overall trends in communities structure, as this study proves that at present Gialova lagoon hosts a rich and diverse fauna (sixty-two macrobenthic species and ten sedentary and migrant fishes). In addition the Gialova wetland is an important stop over site for many bird species to and from Africa, while its freshwater marshes and shallow waters which are rich in fish attract a great number of wintering waterbirds. In total 231 bird species have been recordred so far in this wetland. Four of these species are globally threatened, according to the EEC Bird Directive (1979), the Bern (1982) and the Bonn (1983) Conventions, while another fifty-two species are threatened in Europe. Management measures in the region should focus on a integrated protection plan with minimum interventions. The most important of these actions to be proposed are the following:

  • protection of the lagoon from future oil spills
  • increase of the freshwater inflow in the body of the lagoon combined with the deepening of certain areas of the lagoon thus creating fishesŐ refuges
  • controlling of the public pressure observed during the summer period
  • management of fisheries resources
  • prohibition of hunting
  • awareness of the local population and of the public authorities of the various environmental problems arising in the area