The “Ivaria” are facilities that control the passage, as they trap and capture the fish moving to and from the Amvrakikos lagoons. They are natural fish farms in the lagoons and a method of natural water harvesting without any human intervention.

"Ivarias" are built on the narrow channels of communication between the sea and the lagoons, the "bukes" as they are called. The construction of traditional reed "ivarias" is a difficult and demanding construction that tends to disappear in recent years.

The broad-bodied fish, withstanding a wide range of salinities, enter the shallow waters of the lagoons en masse every spring to exploit the rich food. In the Spring all these vast expanses of shallow water are alive with life. During this period, the "Ivarias" build up (harvest), that is, they open the barriers they have at the narrow points of communication between the lagoon and the sea. During the hours when waters exit to the sea, then schools of spawn and young fish enter the lagoons against the current. When the weather warms up at the end of spring, the ponds are closed with reeds, which trap the fish inside the lagoon, but allow the water to circulate, thus also its renewal.

Spawn and small fish enter the ivaria through the now metal meshes, which replaced reed fences in the 1980s. Due to the rich food reserves, caged fish grow at a faster rate, compared to any other natural reservoir. When they are old enough, they can't get past the fences and back into the sea. A percentage of them are preyed upon by larger predatory fish and birds (cormorants, silver pelicans, etc.).

The fish (cephalopods, bream, eels, gobies, atherines, etc.) seek to head towards the sea. This happens for two reasons. The first reason is when they reach reproductive maturity. The second reason for the exit of the fish is the extreme values of physical and chemical parameters that the semi-enclosed shallow waters acquire, especially in summer and winter with the extreme values of temperatures.

Except for gobies, all other fish species breed in the open sea of the Ionian Sea.

Apart from the method of managing the lagoons with the ivaria, the inhabitants developed many other techniques for catching fish with harpoons, fishing rods, etc. For their movement, fishermen traditionally use light boats that move in the shallow waters of the lagoons. Such are the "priarias" with a length of about 5-6 meters, the "gaites" and the smaller single trees or "korytakias". All the above boats are made of wood, have no keel and their bottom is flat. After the fish are "caged" with the gills or gillnets, they are caught with nets and seines.

Ivaria of Ambracian Gulf
1. Ιβάρια
Image Source: N.E.C.C.A./P.A.M.U. Acheloos Valley and Amvrakikos Gulf.
Ivaria of Ambracian Gulf
2. Ιβάρια λεπτομέρεια
Image Source: N.E.C.C.A./P.A.M.U. Acheloos Valley and Amvrakikos Gulf.
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