European Small Islands Federation

Bottoms Up

Much of what we know about the ocean floor’s topology we know from data collected by multibeam sonar systems. It is estimated that these sonar systems – which have to be lugged back and forth by ships across the surface of the sea in order to acquire soundings of the seafloor deep beneath them – have left a staggering 90% of the deep-sea bottom uncharted.

Seas, ecosystems and marine resources in general are subject to considerable pressures. Human activities and the effects of climate change, natural disasters, erosion and deposition in waters around islands and along mainland coasts can create serious effects on marine ecosystems leading to environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and eventually to social and economic stagnation.


Now, ESIN’s Greek member organization HSIN led by its charismatic president Elefterios Kechagioglou has obtained Interreg financing for high resolution seafloor mapping and bottom characterization of East Mediterranean waters, called “GeoMarine”.

The consortium is a transnational, including 8 partners: Hellenic Small Islands Network, lead partner, University of Athens/Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment, and University of Thessaloniki/Department of Geology (Greece), Institute for Oceanology in Varna and Bulgarian Cartographic Association (Bulgaria), ORION Joint Research and Development Centre (Cyprus), South East European Research Institute on Geo Sciences (Macedonia) and the Municipality of Saranda (Albania).

The objectives of “GeoMarine” project is to develop the infrastructure (eg, boat & equipment) and technology (eg, S/W and tools) offering:

  • High-resolution mapping of the sea bottom using Multibeam echosounder, and
  • Additional technologies & Surveying practices such as sediment sampling and its application in case studies covering pool areas, islands and their surrounding area

We wish the project the best of luck. Preserving and protecting the sea is always a top priority for us islanders. We are living in it.


Loubrieu B., C. Satra, R. Cagna & al. (N. Chamot-Rooke), 2001. Cartography by multibeam echo-sounder of the Mediterranean Ridge and surrounding areas, International Commission for the Scientific Exploration of the Mediterranean Sea (CIESM) & Ifremer, sheet 1 : Morpho-bathymetry, sheet 2 : Acoustic imagery, 1:1.500.000 scale.

Small island schools perform well


Karl Jan Solstad

Last week, the Nordic Council archipelago cooperation arranged a seminar on the topic of small island schools. One of the speakers was Norwegian professor emeritus Karl Jan Solstad, who presented his research from Vågan, a municipality among the Lofoten islands in Nordland Region, northern Norway.

Map of Nordland Region in Norway with its municipalities, Vågan is no 40, marked in yellow

Norwegian municipalities are eventually closing small schools and transporting pupils by bus to larger schools. The tendency is that the size of schools closed down is getting bigger, and relatively, more of these schools are situated further away from the new school to which the pupils are transferred.Providing a better education is the reason given by politicians, in spite of strong local mobilization against closure.

Vågan has some 9,000 residents and nine schools in grades 1-10 with 1,063 pupils 2015-16. Two schools are large (having many pupils): Kabelvåg (327) and Svolvaer (544). The remaining seven are considered small: Digermulen (19), Gimsøy (18), Hennningsvaer (52), Laukvik (45), Laupstad (20), Skrova (13), Sydal (26).

Professor Solstad shows the feelings about and arguments for and against small schools of headmasters and teachers, parents and pupils. Most astonishing, he shows that the results of pupils in small schools are better than in large schools.


Results from National  8th grade, 2014-15 and 2015-16, Reading, Mats and English, All of Vågan, the two large schools (Svovaer and Kabelvåg) and the “small schools, arithmetic average and number of pupils.

The report from Vågan can be found here and his presentation from last weeks lecture is streamed here (it starts at 1:44).

Professor Solstad’s presentation was mindblowing but there were other, most interesting presentations including distance learning in the Åland Islands (presented by Kaj Törnroos) (42:00), “Understanding the big in the small” by Gunilla Karlberg-Granlund (1:25) and Lena Möllersten’s work as a networking headmaster of small schools in the Stockholm archipelago.


Kaj Törnroos


Gunilla Karlberg-Granlund


Lena Möllersten

Islands are in the package


The European Commission wants to boost the transition to clean energy. To this end, it is revising how it uses the financial tools of the Structural and Investment Funds.

As was indicated by DG Energy’s Marie Donnelly during the FOP22 meeting in  Marrakech, 14th of November, islands are in the package.

In the Work programme Annex dated 30.11.2016, the Commission urges the Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank to consider that “islands and island regions provide platforms for pilot initiatives on clean energy transition and can serve as showcases at international level.” … “The Commission would like to help accelerate the development and adoption of best available technologies on islands and island regions, including exchange of best practice in financing and legal and regulatory regimes, and in energy for transport. The first step is to bring the islands themselves together, regardless of their size, geography or their location.” …

“In the first half of 2017, the Commission will hold a high level meeting in Valletta on the clean energy opportunities and challenges for islands. This will launch a process to support islands in their clean energy transition.” (see page 14 in the Annex attached).



Island residents treated as guinea pigs, says Finnish newspaper

In Finland, the government is keen to promote digital business and new business models. To this end, free traffic service in the archipelago is said to prevent commercial producers of transportation services to gain entry into the market and impairs the possibility of developing a free traffic service market in the area, said the Finnish Ministry of Communication in a memorandum yesterday.

This is causing much agitation among the islanders in Finland.

The draft regulation proposes that a reasonable fee should be charged for traffic and transport services that government partly subsidies. There would be no exceptions for the residents of these islands.

Finnish newspaper Åbo Underättelser (covering the Turku area embracing the largest archipelago of Finland) says this is a severe discrimination of the 500 residents: The government has no idea what it is doing. They use the islanders as guinea pigs. This is not only wrong, it is a direct affront to our archipelago, one of the most vulnerable areas in the nation right now. Toll service boats is the government’s way of saying that it is too expensive to serve people living in uncomfortable places in the country.

As ESIN board member Pia Prost stated in her recent article in Skärgård magazine[1], there are all in all 4.300 residents on about 250 islands without fixed links in Finland’s archipelagoes, out of totally 22.000 islands.

The editorial titled “An insult to the archipelago”can be read here (in Swedish)



Island overcosts covered

After the Study on island over cost presented to French authorities (Prime Minister) in July 2015, the help of many MP’s and the Bretagne Regional council Chairman (also Minister of French Army Jean Yves Le Drian), the french government proposed to cover the island overcost estimated 4 million euro/year (incuding investment & running costs) for all îles du Ponant island  communes.

Yesterday evening, the French Parliement (l’Assemblée Nationale) voted the additional  law for this. It still has to be confirmed  by Sénat within a few days, but our French member AIP is very confident about this.


Top ten island books?

Which books, songs or poems have had the strongest influence on our common image of what an island is?

Is it Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe”, George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” or Ernest Hemingway’s “Islands in the Stream”? Is it Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” or Enid Blyton’s “Five on a Treasure Island”? Is it Paul Simon’s “I am a rock, I am an island” or is it John Donne’s “No man is an island”? Is it Jules Verne’s “l’Ile Mysterieuse”, Walt Disney/Carl Barks’ “Floating Island” or Hergé’s “L’Ile Noir”?

Which literary contribution has had most influence on the human concept of an “island”?

Viktor Builds a Bridge

In 1974, Swedish illustrator Jan Loof published a small book called Viktor bygger en bro (it exists in English: Viktor Builds a Bridge). I am very fond of it, I read it to my children when they were small, I have started reading it to my grand-children and I am now showing it to you. Please enjoy.


Title page


Once there was a man called Viktor. He lived on an island. His only friend was a tame gull.


It would be nice to see some people, said Viktor. Krrr, said the gull.