Patroklos pilot site is located 60 kilometers south of Athens
Many tourists visit the Patroklos islet both by private boat and by collective tours. The islet is privately owned, but open to the public.
The aquaculture total annual production of marine Mediterranean fish in that area is 230 tonnes.
Scuba diving is a very popular activity in the area.
The Patroklos area has everything you might dream of for the perfect vacation in Greece: crystal sea waters, a warm climate, a tiny, unspoiled islet dominating the landscape, an archeological area right in front. And a treasure to be discovered underwater: plenty of corals, fish, monuments, and even a shipwreck site and a car cemetery – in short, a paradise for scuba divers.
The Skironis aquaculture farm is located just nearby. In the recent past, the local community was dividedabout it, with some locals being concerned that the beauty of the landscape might be disturbed, preventing a further growth of the local touristic industry.
The aquaculture farm managers, together with the local scuba diving center Blue Planet, are convinced that if they work together they can strengthen the synergies among the two activities, transforming the fish farm into yet one more touristic asset for the area. Thus, together with Wings ICT solutions, they joined UNITED to prove that multi-use can benefit the community as a whole, by bringing more tourists to the area.
The plan is simple: the Kastelorizo aquaculture farm will be included in scuba diving tours organized by Planet Blue dive center. The farm could provide scuba diving tours with a unique natural beauty scene: the food given to the farmed fish attracts many wild fish, which are thus abundant in the area. In turn, Planet Blue activities will benefit the farm: the diving center, which also carries out marine surveillance activities and owns remote operating vehicles (ROVs) for taking videos of disaster sites, could use their skill and equipment to facilitate the aquaculture activities. In UNITED, certain ROVs will be used in the farm for infrastructure inspection and other activities. Wings ICT will provide the necessary IT support to operations, by creating a platform that will schedule co-activity work, provide better management of the farm and monitor key parameters that ensure environmental conditions and aquaculture production is not disturbed.
Although this sounds simple, there are also challenges which UNITED activities will address. Is this combined use of the marine space feasible under existing laws? How close to the farm, and how deep, can scuba divers go? For example, at present a certification is required for trained scuba divers to repair nets. In addition, it is not known whether farmed fish is going to be stressed by visitors. In UNITED, stress factors in fish will be monitored, and cameras will be used to observe their behavior.
The ultimate aim is not only to prove that these activities can actually be combined, but also to demonstrate the benefits of multi-use for the area as a whole. As part of UNITED activities, interviews and workshops will be held in the area. This way, local stakeholders will be engaged to identify strategies to fully reap the benefits in terms of increased tourism – and to explore additional ways to gain added benefits, for example through partnerships between the farm and local restaurants. The UNITED team believes that, at the end of the project, local people will look at the site with completely different eyes.