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Europe’s First Center for Aquatic Animal Welfare to Open in Crete, Greece

Purple jellyfish
The pioneering European Aquatic Animal Protection Centre will be established in the Greek island of Crete. Credit: Roberto Pillon / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

The island of Crete in Greece has been chosen as the location for the opening of the first European Aquatic Animal Protection Center.

The decision was announced after discussions between Greek Agriculture Minister Lefteris Avgenakis and EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides during a recent meeting of EU agriculture and fisheries ministers in Luxembourg.

The future EU Reference Center for Aquatic Animal Protection will be based at the University of Crete. It will work jointly with the Biological Center of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague and the University of Barcelona. The center’s goal is to make a valuable contribution to the formation of EU policy frameworks. It will also aim to lead cutting-edge research related to the welfare of aquatic organisms.

Ultimately, the center will become a critical bastion for biodiversity conservation through sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems. The EU has already established three reference centers dealing with animal welfare issues: pigs, poultry and small farm animals, as well as ruminants and horses.

The Aquatic Animal Cntere in Crete has the potential to create new jobs

In his statement, Minister Avgenakis emphasized the project’s potential for new centers and jobs. It will support local producers with contemporary expertise and advanced tools.

According to the minister, the creation of the center will not only provide vital expertise to producers in Greece, but throughout the EU. Additionally, the Greek Ministry envisions the University of Crete enhancing its identity as a leading Europe‘s academic center. This will be achieved through the promotion of cutting-edge research in the areas of aquatic animal welfare, environmental protection, and improved water resource management.

Greece’s Pet Law Against Animal Abuse

In 2021, the Greek Parliament approved a new pet law. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hailed it as a modern framework safeguarding animals from abuse and abandonment.

The new law introduced several key provisions, including harsher penalties for pet abuse and the establishment of a pet DNA analysis and storage bank to aid in tracking abandoned animals. Notably, the legislation also mandated a digital health book for pets, accessible to both owners and veterinarians, and banned the sale of cats and dogs at pet shops.

Additional measures were implemented to regulate breeding, including the enforcement of mandatory neutering for pet owners. Moreover, a national pet registry was created, encompassing both owned and stray animals, with the participation of animal welfare associations, veterinarians, breeders, and shelters. Municipalities were encouraged to promote responsible pet ownership through incentives, such as reduced city taxes.

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