by Lily Venizelos
It all began in 1983, five years before MEDASSET was officially founded, when I first realised that sea turtles were nesting in Laganas Bay on the island of Zakynthos until I started a campaign for their protection. Few had heard of this now famous loggerhead nesting site or even knew of the existence of such magnificent animals in some countries of the Mediterranean. What began as a single-handed national and international effort, was persevered with until MEDASSET was founded in 1988, and now continues as a fully-fledged and highly professional UK Registered Charity and an independent NGO registered in Greece.
MEDASSET’s lobbying and campaigning was instrumental in establishing the Zakynthos National Marine Park in 1999. Since its constitution, the organisation remains the only one working exclusively on sea turtle conservation throughout the Mediterranean. Core funding by its founder enabled it to pursue monitoring, research, conservation and education projects in European, Near Eastern and North African countries around the Mediterranean basin. These activities have been fully backed by key international environmental intergovernmental organizations and conventions and further supported by sponsors and fundraising.
By surveying almost 8,000 km of Mediterranean coastline, identifying new nesting sites and confirming the absence of turtles in key areas, MEDASSET has made a major contribution to the legal framework that protects sea turtles and their habitats in Greece, Egypt and Albania, and provided invaluable information in support of coastal habitat management plans and sustainable use of the Mediterranean coastal zone.
With only 300-500 green turtles remaining in the Mediterranean, this species has been MEDASSET’s research and conservation priority since 1989. It has been MEDASSET’s enthusiasm, persistence, imaginative and original approach, hard work, lobbying and campaigning that sets it apart as a unique organisation. It is with pride and joy that we celebrate our 25th Anniversary.