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Situated at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Turkey is a cultural melting pot with a rich history and varied landscape that ranges from arid plains to mountains – a result of complex earth movements that have shaped the region over millennia.
Turkey is also bounded by seas on three sides: the Aegean Sea to the west, the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean to the south, with the Sea of Marmara enclosed within the north-west of the country.
Gökova Bay, on Turkey’s south-west coast, is located at the meeting point between the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. This is a stunning region, where sheer mountains drop down to turquoise waters.
Its rocky coves and bays provide important nursery grounds for charismatic species like the Critically Endangered Mediterranean monk seal as well as many commercially-valuable species. It is also the only known breeding spot for the Endangered Mediterranean population of sandbar sharks.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and local partner The Mediterranean Conservation Society are now working with community members to help them take an active role in patrolling and monitoring six No Fishing Zones as a means to minimise illegal fishing activity, promote fish stock and habitat recovery, and raise awareness of the need to protect the marine environment for the benefit of local livelihoods.
The Gökova Bay Marine Protected Area is recognised as a global biodiversity hotspot, encompassing important seagrass beds, endangered dusky groupers, giant devil rays and Critically Endangered sharks and Mediterranean monk seals. FFI and local partners are working to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of marine resource management in the Gökova Bay Marine Protected Area. As a first step, the project will enable local community members to take an active role in patrolling and monitoring six ‘No Take Zones’ (areas that are closed to fishing) as a means to minimise illegal fishing activity, promote fish stock and habitat recovery, and raise awareness of the need to protect the marine environment for the benefit of local livelihoods.
Gökova Bay in Turkey is dynamic and growing. While fishing is a major component of the identity of the local area, the bay is increasingly becoming popular with tourists due to its exceptional environment which could offer visitors (when developed responsibly) a unique experience to see rare marine fauna and flora. With funding from the Travel Foundation, the ‘Back to the Sea’ project takes advantage of the above factors by offering local fishermen relevant training, capacity building and access to the tourism industry in order to diversify their income by offering marine excursions to visitors, sharing traditional fishing knowledge, and communicating the importance of effective Marine Protected Areas.