Greece is a profoundly maritime nation. The country has one of the most extended coastlines in the world (appr. 15,000 kilometres) and is surrounded almost entirely by sea (Ionian, Mediterranean, Aegean). Greece hosts approximately 4,000 islands and islets which attract large amounts of tourists from all over the globe. Crucial sectors of national and local economies (such as tourism and fisheries) are directly dependent on the quality of the marine environment. Consequently, the protection of the marine environment is of paramount importance for the Hellenic Republic which has awarded this responsibility to the Hellenic Coast Guard.
The primary functions and policies of the Hellenic Coast Guard in relation to the protection of marine environment are the following:
- Drafting and implementation of the National Contingency Plan for Marine Pollution
- Response to marine pollution incidents
- Conduct of anti-pollution exercises
- Conduct of MARPOL inspections
- Procurement and maintenance of pollution prevention equipment, including anti-pollution vessels
- International cooperation with competent authorities and organizations in the field of marine environment protection