A SHORT INTRODUCTION

Lagoons and transitional waters of Southern Europe are recognized as ecosystems of high ecological value and biodiversity along the Mediterranean arc. They are also characterized by their high economic importance for the local societies and therefore they are often exposed to anthropogenic pressures.

The scientific interest for this type of ecosystems is increasing, since there is a need for the understanding of the functioning of the various processes in order to assess and evaluate the risks and protect from the impacts resulting from agriculture, industry, tourism, trade and aquaculture. The need for scientific evidence to support politicians and decision makers is critical.

An International Conference was held in Ferrara, Italy during 10-12 November 2003, entitled ' Southern European Coastal Lagoons: The influence of River-Basin coastal Zone Interactions'. Information related to the subject was presented and the gaps in the scientific cooperation and the public awareness were relized in order to achieve efficient management strategies. The development of national networks of people working on lagoons and transitional waters and the cooperation in the framework of an international network seemed to be the most appropriate approach for the filling of gaps of knowledge and the exchange of experience.

Networks of people already exist in France (PNEC, in the framework of a research project) and Italy (Lagunet, an informal network of people). The development of such networks in Greece and the Iberian peninsula would cover the arc of the Northern Mediterranean. Related networks can also be developed in Southern Mediterranean (along the coast of Northern Africa) and in Northern Europe.

A meeting was held in Mytilini at 20th March 2004, for the development of a Greek network of people working on lagoons and transitonal waters, organised by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) and the Dept of Marine Sciences, University of the Aegean. Researchers from Universities and Research Institutes, representatives of NGO's and public agencies took part in this meeting. Important presentation for the present and the future of greek lagoons and transitional waters were made and the need for cooperation was raised. Very important for the success of this founding meeting was the presentation of the European experience from representatives of PNEC, Lagunet and related European Research projects.

The need for the development of the greek network was realised and the first steps towards this were decided among which are the publication of a website and a newsletter, the organization of a Conference or special sessions in related Conferences, the announcement of the network and the foundation of a legal entity representing the network.