A 26-year-old fisherman’s son has been awarded a prestigious prize from the United Nations, naming him a “Young Champion of the Earth” for his tireless work to clean up Greek seas and help preserve the natural environment in the waters where his father and generations of fishermen before him lived and worked.
Lefteris Arapakis is the only European among the prize’s seven winners. Arapakis witnessed the vast amount of plastic in the sea which was washing up on Greece’s shores and wanted to make a difference.
He created a non-profit organization called Enaleia which trains local fishermen and those working in the fishing industry to make their actions less harmful to marine wildlife.
The organization also provides incentives for people in the fishing trade to conduct their work in a more eco-friendly manner. This includes giving monetary incentives to ships that gather marine plastic and return it safely to land. Enaleia then works to recycle this plastic into new products.
The organization works on the principle that helping the seas bloom and recover is not only good for the environment itself but also good for fishermen in the long-run, because without healthy seas and sufficient fish-stocks, their businesses will most likely collapse.
Arapakis shared his vision in a video, encouraging young people to act immediately to begin protecting the environment.
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