National Park of Messolonghi-Etoliko Lagoons, of lower flow, of Acheloos and Evinos rivers delta and of Echinades islands" (Official Government Gazette 477/31 May 2006).
The park is located in Etoloacarnania prefecture, in the south end of Sterea Ellada where Patraic gulf meets the Ionian Sea and where Evinos and Acheloos rivers fall. This location includes lagoons, land and fluvial areas of the southern part of Etoloacarnania prefecture and the island complex of Echinades of Kefallinia prefecture. These areas are distinctive for their great biological, ecological, aesthetic, scientific, geological / morphological and environmental value.
The park includes:
- The extensive complex of wetlands and lagoons of Messolonghi-Etolikou and Evinos and Acheloos river outfalls. Distinctive features of this complex are the fluvial and riverside areas, lagoons, swamps, mud flats and forests full of running forests.
The overland part which includes:
- Hills that can be seen in different parts of the wetland and most of which used to be part of Echinades islands, but the sedimentary movement of Acheloos river unified them with the land.
- Barasova mountain (shelter for many preys) which is part of Arakinthos mountain.
- Sand fields created by the substances brought by rivers and which delimit the lagoons from the sea.
- Klisoura gorge which is considered to be of unique natural beauty
- Fraxos Forest proclaimed as “Preserved Monument of Nature”
- Cultivated areas
- Echinades island complex which is interconnected with Acheloos outfall system.
Central role to the formation of this wetland area have Evinos and Acheloos rivers which also constitute its natural boarders on its west and east side respectively.
The Messolonghi-Etoliko lagoon is the largest in Greece and one of the largest in the Mediterranean. Because of the geomorphology of the area that has been changed after human intervention in the period of 1960-1995, nowadays the area consists of a system of six separate lagoons that present different natural and chemical characteristics. They extend over 15.000 ha. while the broader area of the biotope includes coastal ecosystems, swamps, salterns and reclaimed areas which are now used for cultivation.
So, a complex of lagoons has been created were you can distinguish six units:
1) North Channel of Klisova lagoon
2) Klisova lagoon
3) Central lagoon, where many fish farms are located (fishing locations): Tourlida, Vasiladi, Schinias and Prokopanistos.
4) Tholi lagoon
5) Paleopotamos lagoon
6) Etolikos lagoon (Etolikos Channel).
The lagoon, as far as the production is concerned, is not famous for the great variety of commercial fish but for the large quantities it can host. The lagoon produces some species such as: gilt-head seabream (Sparus aurata), sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax), eels (Anguilla), gudgeon and some striped mullet species (Mugilidae). From the female striped mullet (Mugil cefalus) people extract the famous caviar of Messolonghi also called 'bafa’ the only Greek fishery product with Controlled Appellations of Origin (CPO).
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