On the 27 September 2021, Lefteris Arapakis, a national of Greece, has received the honorary title of Ambassador for the Mediterranean Coast during the online event organised by the PAP/RAC as part of the celebration of the 2021 edition of Mediterranean Coast Day (25 September).
“The decision to award the title to Lefteris Arapakis is an acknowledgement of his remarkable contribution to a cleaner Mediterranean,” said Ms. Skaricic.
Mr. Arapakis, who was announced as UNEP Young Champion of the Earth for Europe in 2020, hails from a family of fishers. He has witnessed from an early age boats around his hometown of Piraeus (a sea-side suburb of Athens, Greece) hauling in nets filled with litter instead of fish. The plastic rubbish was then thrown back in the sea instead of being disposed of properly. He decided to act.
In 2016 Lefteris Arapakis co-founded Enaleia, the first professional fishing school in Greece. His objectives were to instil environmentally friendly practices in the profession, and to motivate the fishers to collect discarded plastic they encounter in the Mediterranean. Thanks to this endeavour, the fishers affiliated to his social enterprise remove about 20 tonnes of plastic from the sea every month. A partnership with an organization based in the Netherlands allows for the recycling of discarded fishing nets (the most common by-catch) into carpets, socks, masks and other consumer products.
As Mrs Skaricic emphasized: “The Mediterranean is one of the most marine-litter-affected regional seas. Discarded single-use plastics are notoriously ubiquitous. Marine litter has adverse and far-reaching environmental and socio-economic impacts, including on human health. The problem is rooted in unsustainable consumption and production patterns. Through the Regional Plan on Marine Litter devised in the context of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention), we are promoting the use of available tools and approaches for the removal of marine litter from the seafloor - we call it Fishing for Litter (FfL), and it includes the retrieval of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear. “Fishing for Litter” offers many benefits of the environmental, social, economic and scientific kind. The inspiring work that Lefteris Arapakis is doing with Enaleia is important and relevant, as it successfully demonstrates that individual and local initiatives driven by passion and shared priorities are crucial in complementing action taken at the regional level.”
“We are convinced that Mr. Arapakis’s enthusiasm and the sense of initiative will make Lefteris an excellent Ambassador for the Mediterranean coast,” Ms. Skaricic concluded.
We invite you to have a look at the video on our new ambassador on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUW_2qH_p4c&t=1s