With the integration in Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency (NECCA) of the Management Body of Messolonghi lagoon – Akarnanika Mountains, the Management Unit of Messolonghi National Park and Protected Areas of Western Central Greece operates under N.E.C.C.A.’s Protected Areas Management Directorate (Sector A), based in Aitoliko.
Its spatial area of jurisdiction includes the following Natura 2000 sites:
|GR2310001||DELTA ACHELOOU, LIMNOTHALASSA MESOLONGHIOU – AI-TOLIKOU, EKVOLES EVINOU, NISOI ECHINADES, NISOS PETA-LAS|
|GR2310009||LIMNES TRICHONIDA KAI LYSIMACHEIA|
|GR2310010||OROS ARAKYNTHOS KAI STENA KLEISOURAS|
|GR2310015||DELTA ACHELOOU, LIMNOTHALASSA MESOLONGHIOU – AI-TOLIKOU KAI EKVOLES EVINOU, NISOI ECHINADES, NISOS PETALAS, DYTIKOS ARAKYNTHOS KAI STENA KLEISOURAS|
National Park Of The Messolonghi – Aitoliko Lagoon
The National Park of the Messolonghi – Aitoliko Lagoon, downstream of the rivers Evinos and Acheloos and the islands of Echinades” (for short the National Park of the Messolonghi Lagoon), is located at the south-western tip of Central Greece, where the Patraikos Gulf meets the Ionian Sea and the rivers Evinos and Acheloos flow out. It is one of the richest wetlands in Europe, both in number of species and in abundance. This extensive deltaic ecosystem is covered by the Ramsar Convention and is included in the Natura 2000 network as a Special Conservation Area and a Special Protection Area for birds.
The National Park covers a total area of 616,000 hectares. Of these, 3,060 hectares are designated as Absolute Protection Areas (AP), 247,408 hectares as Regional Areas (RA) and 8,808 hectares as Regional Zones (RZ). Over half of the Park’s area (356. 769 hectares) are occupied by designated Nature Areas (PAs), which include river and riparian areas, lagoon lakes, freshwater marshes, salt marshes, mudflats, shallow shores, hydrophilic forests, sand dunes, hills scattered throughout the wetland complex, gorges on Mount Arakinthos, and most of the Echinades islands west of the Acheloos estuary. The net wetland area amounts to approximately 190 000 hectares.
Along with the protection of the protected areas of Natura 2000, the Management Unit is oriented to the promotion of the environmental values of the Park and the protected areas of Western Central Greece and to the creation of the best possible conditions for the sustainable development sought by the local community.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE BODY – DESIGNATION OF A NATIONAL PARK
Law 1650 «Basic Law for the Protection of the Environment» (Government Gazette 160A’/18.10.1986)
Law 2742 «Administration and Management of Protected Areas» (Government Gazette 207A’/07.10.1999) Chapter E
Law 3044 «Establishment of Management Bodies(25)» (Government Gazette 197A’/27.08.2002) – Article 13.
Joint Ministerial Decision 22306 «Definition of the National Park of the Messolonghi-Aitoliko National Park, the lower rivers Acheloos and Evinos and the Ehinades Islands» (Government Gazette 477D’/31.5.2006)
OPERATION OF THE MANAGEMENT BODY
Minister‘s Decision «Regulation for the execution of works, the awarding, monitoring and acceptance of studies and services, the supply, delivery and acceptance of goods, materials and products and for the conclusion and execution of relevant contracts of the Management Body of Messolonghi Lagoon». (Government Gazette 1442B’/19.10.2005)
OBJECTS OF THE MANAGEMENT BODY
Law 4685 «Modernization of environmental legislation» (Government Gazette 92A’/07-05-2020)
Law 4519 «Management bodies of protected areas and other provisions» (Government Gazette 25A’/20-02-2018)
Ministry of Justice 49828 «Approval of a special spatial planning framework for RES» (Government Gazette 2464/03/12/2008)
Joint Ministerial Decision 8353/276/E103 «Amendment and completion of Joint Ministerial Decision No. 37338/1807/2010 “Determination of measures and procedures for the conservation of wild birds and their habitats/habitats, in compliance with Directive 79/409/EEC….”» (Government Gazette 415B’/23-02-2012)
Minister ‘s Decision 1958/13.01.12 «Classification of public and private land and activities into categories and subcategories» (Government Gazette 21B’/13-01-2012)
Joint Ministerial Decision 31722/04.11.11 «Approval of the Special Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development Framework for Aquaculture and its Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment» (Government Gazette 2505B’/04-11-2011)
Law 4014 «Environmental licensing of projects and activities» (Government Gazette 209A’/21.09.2011)
Law 3937 «Conservation of Biodiversity and other provisions» (Government Gazette 60A’/31.03.2011)
Law 3851 «Acceleration of the development of Renewable Energy Sources to address climate change and other provisions on issues within the competence of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change» (Government Gazette.85A’/04.06.2010)
Directive 2009/147/EC – on the conservation of wild birds
Joint Ministerial Decision 414985 «Measures for the management of wild birds» (Government Gazette 757/B/18.12.1985)
REGULATION NO 366539/16.12.96 – Directive 92/43/EEC 21.05.1992 – Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora» (Government Gazette 1188/B/31-12-96)
Joint Ministerial Decision 33318/3028/11.12.98 «Definition of measures and procedures» (Government Gazette 1289B/28-12-1998)
Joint Ministerial Decision HP 14849/4.4.2008 «Amendment» (Government Gazette 645B’/11-04-2008)
The National Park of the lagoons of Messolonghi – Aitoliko, downstream and the estuaries of the rivers Acheloos and Evinos and the Echinades Islands consists of an extensive wetland complex of the lagoon of Messolonghi – Aitoliko and the estuarine systems of the rivers Evinos and Acheloos. In this complex are distinguished riverine and riparian areas, lagoons, freshwater and salt marshes, mudflats, wet forests.
The following ecosystems are found in the National Park:
2) Acheloos & Evinos rivers
3) Swamps: Salt marshes, freshwater marshes, mixed marshes
In particular, the following natural landscapes are found:
The hills are full of a considerable variety of flora: 1) small forests and clumps of Holly Oaks (Quercus ilex), Valonia oaks (Quercus macrolepis), 2) shrubs of evergreen hardwood species such as kermes oak (Quercus coccifera) and wild olive trees (Olea europea var. Sylvestris), 3) lands with Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa) and Euporbia acanthothamnos and where the flora has been degraded. Some orchids also grow on the hills: Orchis lacteal, Orchis italica, Barliarobertiana.
In the meadows and fields of the area there is a large number of herbaceous plants such as Cerinthe major, Adonis annua, Allium subhistrum, Anthemis chia, Silene colorata.
Sandy hills are dominated by plants that are more or less resistant to the presence of high concentrations of salt in the place where they grow. The plant species here are particularly specialised, e.g. in the roots and leaves, to cope with the harsh conditions of life in the sand (e.g. Ammophila arenaria, Inula critmoides) from the plants growing among the Juncus Effusus, Glaucium flavum, Eryngium maritimym from the plants that can live near the sea, Pancratium maritium, Calystegia soldanella colonises the sand dunes that are close enough to the sea, Centaurea sonchfolia, Nerium oleander towards the inland where local concentrations of fresh water occur in spring.
The flora of the freshwater marshes is dominated by Phragmites communis and broadleaf cattaill (Typha latifolia). Other species include Aster tripolium, Ajuga reptans, Ononis natrix and Arthrocnemum sp..
The salt marshes, known as ‘saltsina’ in the area, are home to halophytic plants/ salt-tolerant plants (resistant to the high salt content of the soil). Near the sea, where the salt content is high and the humidity is high, salicornia (Salicornia europaea) dominates; where the soils are more rarely flooded, plants such as Arthrocnemum sp are found; where the salt marshes meet the fresh water marshes, just before the cultivated soils, the flora is characterized by Juncus sp and Tamarix parviflora.
The river banks and neighbouring areas are richly vegetated with a variety of plant species. In addition to the Phagmites sp. and the Typha latifolia, water lilies (Iris pseudacorus) grow in many places.
In areas that are flooded for a considerable period of time by river water, forests of deciduous trees that need a lot of water, such as ashes (Fraxinus sp.), willows (Salix alba), silver willows (Populus alba), alders and elm trees (Ulmus minor) grow. In the past, the Acheloos delta area was home to extensive riparian forests, but due to deforestation, as in the Mediterranean, only the remnants of these forests remain.
In the area of Lessini, in an area of about 600 hectares, there is a magnificent riverside forest, a remnant of an ancient larger forest at the mouth of Acheloos river. Its flora is dominated by 3 species of ashes (Fraxinus ornus, Fraxinus excelsior, Fraxinus oxycarpa). There are also silver-white (Populus alba), willow (Salix alba), elm (Ulmus minor), laurel (Laurus nobilis). In 1985 the hedge forest was designated by the Ministry of Agriculture as a ‘Nature Monument’ and is protected by special legislation in recognition of its value.
At least 290 bird species have been observed in the area, 220 out of which occur regularly. At least 70 species are threatened at the European level. The ornithological interest of the area by season has as follows:
Winter: Duck and Coot wintering populations reach by mean 20,000 and 25,000 individuals respectively. The population of wintering Waders is one the greatest in Greece and approaches 16,000 individuals. Waders include at least 20 different species among which the Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) (2,000-3,500individuals.). Other interesting species which winter in big populations are: The Slender Billed Gull (Larus genei) (many hundreds), the Avocet (Recurvisrostra avocetta) (few hundred), various herons (many hundreds), the Spoon Bill (Platalea leucordia) and the Flamingo (Phoenicopterus rubber) (~10,000individuals). Wintering raptors include the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)(10 individuals), the Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga), the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) and occasionally the Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca). The Peregrines (Falco peregrinus) the Saker (Falco cherrug), other falcons and harriers and kits are also present.
Migrations: many thousands of Ducks, Herons, Waders stop over the Park and feed for many days (all April until mid-May). Some of the threatened ones include the Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), the Golden Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), the Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), the Great White Heron or Great egret (Ardea Alba), the Black Tern (Chlidonias niger), the Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus), the Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) and the Collarred Pratincole (Glareola pratincola). Many tenths of passering species also stop in the Park, such as Wheaters, Warblers, Flycatchers, etc.
Breeding: The area continues to support the breeding of many waterfowl species such as the Little Tern (Sterma albifrons) the Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), the Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica), the Collarred Pratincole (Glareola pratincola), the Oystercatcher (Himantopus ostralegus), the Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus), the Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), the Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) and the Red Shank (Tringa totanus). Other interesting species which breed in the area are the White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) and the Little Kestrel (~100persons). The Raptors which breed in the surrounding hilly zone include the Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), the Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus), the Peregrine (Falco peregrines) and occasionally the Lanner (Falco biarmicus). The characteristic /passerines of the wetland include the Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla), the Calandra Lark (Melancorypha calandra), the Crested Lark (Galerida cristata), the Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) and the White Waggtail (Motacilla alba).
At least 15 species of mammals are present and it is considered certain that a more systematic study of the area will reveal the presence of even more. The most common species are the fox (Vulpes vulpes), the badger (Meles meles), the skunk (Martes foina) and the weasel (Mustela nivalis), which are mainly found on the hills of the area and in the fields where they are bordered by hills and patches of natural flora. One of the mammals that is particularly rare and strictly protected is the otter (Lutra lutra), which is found mainly in the two rivers Acheloos and Evinos, where they have a dense cover of natural flora, but also in certain streams and large drainage channels with a satisfactory flow and water level and considerable flora cover. Particularly abundant are also bats belonging to at least four different species.
At least 28 species of reptiles have been recorded in the area, including all turtle species, namely the three terrestrial species (Testulo marginata, Testudo hermanni, Testudo graeca), the two freshwater species (Mauremys caspica and Emys orbicularis) and the sea turtle caretta (Caretta caretta), 11 species of lizards have been recorded: (Lacerta viridis, Larceta trilineata, Algyroides nigropunctatus, Podarcis muralis, Podarcis Taurica), (Hemydacty lusturcicus, Cyrtodactylus kotschyi) the sedentary lizard (Anguis fragilis) and 9 species of trachius snakes (Ophisaurus apodus), grass snake(Natrix natrix), dice snake (Natrix tesselata), Coluber najadum, Coluber jugularis, Malpolon monspesulanus, Aesculapian snake (Elaphe longissima), Leopard snake (Elaphe situla), four line snake (Elaphe quatorlineata), nose-horned viper (Vipera ammodytes).
Amphibians such as the Rana epirotica, the Rana graeca in Evinos River, the Rana dalmatina, the Bufo viridis, the Hyla arborea and the Bufo bufo are also observed.
Of great scientific and ecological interest are the various species of freshwater fish distributed in the rivers, streams, irrigation and drainage canals of the area. Some of these species are listed as endemic to this geographical area, such as the Silurus aristotelis, the Scardinius acarnanicus, the Leuciscus svallize, the Gobitis trichonica and the Economidichthys trichonis.
The most characteristic fish species of the lagoon is the goby (Gobius gobius), whose distribution coincides exactly with that of the lagoon and in particular with that of the brackish waters of the area. There are five species of mullet, namely the mullet Mugil cephalus, the Liza aurata, the Liza saliens, the Chelo labrosus and the Liza ramada, on which the lagoon’s fishery production is largely based. Also European bass (Dicentrarhus labrax) and the Guilt-head bream (Sparus aurata). Some species of marine fish such as the annular sea bream (Diplodus annulari), striped seabreem (Lithognathus mormyrus), Red mullet (Mullus barbatus), etc. are also found in the lagoon, but are mainly found in the transition zone between the lagoon and the sea. Other species are: Platichthys flesus luscus, Diplodus sargus, Puntazzo puntazzo
In places where fresh water exists or flows in (streams, torrents, drainage ditches) there are fish species characteristic of fresh water such as:
Gyprinus carpio, Carassius auratus, Tincatinca, Freshwater Cephalus (Leuciscus cephalus), Dromitsa (Rutilus rutilus), Common Rudd (Scandinius erythrophthlmus)
Immediately after the passage of the straits of Rio-Antirrio, the imposing limestone massif of Paliovouna or Klokova rises, which is the easternmost end of the mountainous arc of Arakinthos. Directly opposite, the impressive crags of Varasova are impressive, carved out of the Patraikos narrowing towards the Corinthian Gulf. And immediately afterwards a vast expanse of flat land and shallow waters for many, many kilometres, which is nothing but the extensive alluvial deposits of the two major rivers of southwestern Greece, the Evinos and the Acheloos. There, the two rivers, struggling with the sea’s momentum, created one of the largest wetland systems reaching 220 thousand acres and a fertile plain of the same size. This system includes one of the largest lagoons in the Mediterranean, the Messolonghi – Aitoliko lagoon. It is surrounded by salt marshes, reed beds, mudflats, sand bogs and other smaller lagoons between them. A characteristic feature of this double deltaic system is the scattered presence of hills, former islands joined to the mainland by river siltation, which give the whole ecosystem a special aesthetic and ecological value. These are the Echinades islands.
At the south-western end of the central ridge of the Greek peninsula, where the primary topography consisted of a mountainous land that ended in the sea and was extended into it by scattered islands, the rainfall runoff from the hinterland and the transport of the land caused by it, dramatically altered the entire coastal physiogeography. The land was extended several kilometres towards the sea so that today two visible tongues of land are clearly distinguishable from the city of Patras, the first of the Evinos estuary and the second, much further away, of the Acheloos estuary. Thus, today, the geological background in this ‘terra nova’, is presented with two basic differentiations, that of the mountainous – hilly and that of the lowland area which also encloses the lake and sea formations.
The mountainous area that surrounds the deltaic Acheloos-Evinos system from north and east consists of Mount Arakinthos, which in the northwest presents the large fault of the Kleisoura Gorge, while in the southeast it ends at the fault of the Varasova crests. According to geologists, Arakynthos is a classic ‘horn’ that has been cut off from the rest of the Pindus/Pindos mountain range by various tectonic processes. Two large gorges have been formed in the limestones, one in the north-western part of Kleisoura and the other in the central part of Kremasti – Paliarolakka opposite the Finikia area of Aitoliko.
The lowland area was basically formed by sedimentary deposits which in the northern and northeastern area of the lagoon consist of conglomerate materials and sandstones, while in the rest of the lagoon a wide range of soil formations, mainly of fluvial origin, ranging from lateral cores to fine-grained silty deposits. The materials are locally mixed in a mosaic of clay, clays, gravel, sand, mud and pebbles in the overall deltaic formation.
The climate of this area is very mild as the northerly winds are interrupted by the arc of Mount Arakinthos that surrounds the area from the north and east. The climate is therefore extreme, with an average rainfall of 786 mm and 106 days of rainfall. Snow is rare in the lowlands but frequent in the mountainous areas. The average relative humidity of the air is elevated 68.5% but so is the sunshine.
The Management Unit is responsible for the collection, classification in a database responsibility and carries out studies on various issues, such as the operation of pumping stations and the management of the water they drain, the reuse of treated wastewater from biological treatment plants, the identification of sites for the disposal of aggregates, the improvement of water circulation and its quality characteristics, etc. Of course, particular attention is being paid to the promotion of wildlife studies, most recently through the monitoring programmes for habitats, wildlife species and, in particular, birdlife. It also draws up conservation programmes for specific species, such as the vulture, the sea turtle, the silver pelican, etc. A typical example is the installation of a vulture reintroduction cage in Mount Arakinthos. In addition, it supports with all the means at its disposal any research carried out by institutions and private researchers concerning the ecosystem of the area.
SUBMISSION – IMPLEMENTATION OF PROGRAMS
Today 3 Operational Programmes are implemented:
OPERATIONAL PROGRAMME YMEPEPAA
The implementation of the operation is carried out within the framework of the existing NSRF programming period with a completion date of the end of 2020 (+3).These Actions are included in four Work Packages (WPs) and include:
– Promotion of Operational Programme YMEPEPA Actions.
– Networking/ITP know-how/Scientific Documentation
– Species and habitat monitoring and/or studies (technical and non-technical). Identification and mapping of sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nesting, monitoring of nutria (Myocastor coypus), recording of otter distribution and density, monitoring of Myoxus glis(Glis glis) species, assessment of the status of the land turtle population, etc.
– Improvement of the conservation status of species (Dalmatian Pelican, Barnswallow & House martin, White Stork, Lesser kestrel, Vulture, Otter) and habitat types in the area under the jurisdiction of the Management Body of Messolonghi Lagoon – Akarnanika Mountains (cleaning of the national park to improve the status of habitats and species, etc.).
PROTECTION – MANAGEMENT OF THE ECHINADES ISLANDS AREA OF THE MANAGEMENT BODY OF MESSOLONGHI LAGOON – AKARNANIKA MOUNTAINS
The operation is included in the Priority Axis “Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development” of the Operational Programme “Ionian Islands”.The proposal includes the supply of special equipment for the surveillance of the Echinades Islands, actions for public information and awareness-raising on biodiversity issues and actions for off-site monitoring of wildlife species. Monitoring services include studies on the European shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) and other seabirds, visitor management, the study of the Mediterranean seal (Monachus monachus ) in the area of the Management Body of the Messolonghi Lagoon – Akarnanika Mountains and a study on the reptiles fauna in the protected area of the Echinades Islands complex (Ionian Sea).
INFORMATION – INFORMATION – MONITORING OF NATURA AREAS OF WESTERN GREECE OF SPATIAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE MANAGEMENT BODY OF MESSOLONGHI LAGOON – AKANANIKA MOUNTAINS
The action has been included in the Operational Programme “WESTERN GREECE 2014-2020”. The operation aims at the conservation of biodiversity and the overall protection and management of the National Park and the rest proteted areas, as derived from the environmental, community and national legislation.
As far as the studies are concerned, it is worth mentioning two of the most emblematic ones. These are a) Final Design of drainage, drainage of pumping stations D1, D2, D6 and related works in the lagoon of Messolonghi – Aitoliko and b) Supplementary Projects for the upgrading of the aquatic ecosystems of Southwestern Aitoloakarnania. The Directorate of Reclamation & Flooding Projects of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, utilizing the invitation of the Operational Programme Fisheries & Sea and with the assistance of the Region of Western Greece, has put the projects on track for implementation.
EDUCATION – AWARENESS PROGRAMMES
Α. Environmental Information Centre
Ε. Information & Awareness of Citizens inside and outside Perfecture of Aitoloakarnania
The Guardianship Plan (2012) which includes the planning of the current supervision – guarding situation of the National Park (guarding period, staff – volunteers – equipment, supervision programmes, scope of work) and which can be adapted to the needs of the National Park at any given time with a future horizon for a more complete and effective guarding of the protected areas.
INFORMATION AND AWARENESS ACTIONS
The Management Unit informs and raises awareness among citizens, mainly in the prefecture of Aitoloakarnania, through various means (magazine, maps and other printed material) and activities (seminars and other events). It places particular emphasis on informing and raising awareness among the educational community and, above all, children, of the values of wetlands and other Natura 2000 sites, their ecological functions and their impact on the quality of life and the well-being of local communities. Its staff is constantly visiting schools in the region, where they provide appropriate presentations, discussions with pupils, fun activities and ecological games. It also welcomes and informs hundreds of visitors at the Information Centre and within the National Park’s field. It has also started the systematic promotion of ecotourism both autonomously and in the framework of programmes such as the programme “Intangible Cultural Inheritance” and in cooperation with other bodies such as the Hellenic Ecotourism Society (Guardians of Nature) and Diazoma (Proposed environmental infrastructure projects in the framework of the “Nature & Culture Route .
More generally, the cooperation of the local community is aimed particularly with fishermen, farmers, stockbreeders and hunters in the area, in order to be persuaded and encouraged to comply with the legislation applicable to each group and to implement the correct practices in each case. As part of this strategy, it helps the social partners to solve their long-standing problems relating to environmental parameters. A typical example is the cooperation with the local Hunting Association, which, together with the assistance of the fishermen-employees of the Klisova fish farm, has resulted in a drastic reduction in poaching and the effective protection of the colonies of silver pelicans.
SUPERVISION / GUARDING
One of its daily functions is to supervise the area of the National Park and the rest protected areas and the various activities within them, to record any adverse effects and to inform and activate the competent services in order to deal with them, since it has no investigative – police powers. In other words, it acts in a subsidiary capacity with regard to compliance with environmental legislation. To this end, it has two field marshals, using three vehicles and, alternatively, three boats. One of its regular functions is to provide opinions on environmental impact studies for various projects or investments.
RESIDENTIAL – CULTURAL ENVIRONMENT
Churches – Monasteries
11.On the slopes of Arakinthos, the monastery of Agios Georgios, the elegant Kelaki of Gavalou and the nunnery of Panagia Katerino
12.Agios-Simios is the monastery located northeast of Messolonghi Lagoon,
13.In the area of Stamna the cemetery church of Agia Paraskevi,
Historical buildings in Messolonghi
– Trikoupi House
– Palamas House
– Byron House
– Valvi House
– Trikoupio Cultural Centre
Historical monuments in Messolonghi
– The wall of Messolonghi
– The Garden of Heroes
– The Windmill
– Dolma Monument
Important Holidays & Festivals
– Exodus Celebrations (On the evening of the eve of the Holy Spirit the parade to the Garden of Heroes and Re-enactment of the Blasting and on the day of the Holy Spirit the parade to the Garden of Heroes)
– The feast of Agiou. Simiou on 3 February
– The feast of Agia Agathi on 5 February
– Fish Festival in Aitoliko
– Bird watching
– Horse riding
– Rafting: on river Evinos
– Kayaking in the area of Messolonghi
– Cave exploration
– Thermal baths of Agia Triada Messolonghi
The economic activity that has developed in the area and is directly related to the natural environment can be divided into the following categories:
FISHING & FISH FARMING ACTIVITY
In the lagoons, too, you can find the magical images created by traditional fishing, an activity known throughout Greece for its infinite specificities. Fishing has been carried out in a traditional way for centuries and continues to be a key factor in the well-being of the local community. The many ways of fishing through the lagoon-sea are impressive in their ingenuity (hovis and sea bream are even caught by hand). Traines, longlines, kalamidia, pyrofania all in action and the unique in Greece “staffnokaria”, i.e. the boats with the horizontal net that rises sharply with a lever when the fish pass by and catches them. But the basic and generalized way of fishing is done in the “Ivaria” with special traps placed at the mouths of the lagoon’s communication with the open sea (Patraikos Gulf). The fish, as they go out to the open sea to give birth (or to find cool water in summer and warm water in winter), are caught in these traps called “pirs” and from there the fishermen take them out with their fish. The fish and gastronomy of the area is renowned. Each species of fish has its season, that is, a period when it is fat and spawning. The best period for most species is between July and October. This is when the fishermen take from the “bafas” (female mullet), the famous spawning fish. During the winter, the most abundant fishing grounds are eel, sea bass and goby. In every season the catch is cooked in many ways. Eel, for example, is cooked in 11 different ways. Always, there is no lack of salted fish, mainly mullet and gilt-head bream (Sparus aurata), but the most delicious of all is the Annular Seabream (Diplodus annularis), which, because of its thickness, is twice as deep as its counterpart of the same age in the open sea.
Fish farms: Marine fish farms developed mainly on the West Coast and the Echinades Islands after 1990. Their production today is estimated at more than 10,000 tonnes, mainly of gilt-head bream (Sparus aurata) gilt-head bream (Sparus aurata) and European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax)
Product of Designation of Origin (PDO): Direct and indirect employment with the lagoon-sea provides more than 1000 jobs.
AGRICULTURAL & LIVESTOCK ACTIVITY
After the stabilization of the Acheloos riverbed and the development of the water supply system, vast areas of land have been given over to agriculture in the plains of Lesini, Katochi, Neochori and Evinochori. Mechanical crops of cotton, apple, corn, etc., as well as fruit and vegetables and citrus fruits have been developed. On the adjacent hills the cultivation of olives is important. Livestock production is particularly important in the form of sheep, goats, calves and non-stable pigs.
Another traditional activity, which is one of the most picturesque of all, is that of livestock farming. Hundreds of cattle grazes on the extensive salt marshes of the area, from a local breed that has been adapted to live freely without stabling… Alongside them, in the ‘Blolo’ area, a herd of wild horses completes the picture of the bucolic landscape.
Two such sites are found in the area of Messolonghi. One at the site of Tourlis and one at the site of Aspri. The salt production in the salt marsh located at the Aspri site reaches 100,000 tons, which corresponds to about 60% of the Greek salt production.
The calm waters of the lagoon, the divaria, the gaites, the pelades, the birds, the national struggles of the Free Besieged are some of the elements that have moved and continue to move professional and amateur painters, photographers and filmmakers.
Road: Access to the prefecture can be made by car through the existing road network via the National Axis of Patras – Antirio – Ioannina or from Central Greece via Nafpaktos (Lepanto). Messolonghi is 247 km from Athens.
Urban: There is a regular bus connection between Aitoloakarnania and Athens as well as several prefecture capitals.
During the summer months there is a ferry connection to Ithaca and Kefalonia from Astakos.
By plane: Regular flights from Athens and various foreign destinations to Aktio airport, while during the summer months there are also charter flights to Aktio and Araxos airports.
By boats, boats and yachts.
For more information and for the time being, please visit the Management Body’s website: