Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is working with local partner Akdeniz Koruma Derneği (The Mediterranean Conservation Society) and community members to strengthen protection for threatened species and habitats within Gökova Bay marine protected area and enable the recovery of fisheries within the bay.
This project has seen the establishment of six no-fishing zones, with local fishers and other community members playing an active role in patrolling and monitoring these zones in order to minimise illegal fishing activity and promote fish stock and habitat recovery.
We have also supported ecotourism initiatives in the area, providing training and support to help fishers diversify their income by offering marine excursions to visitors, sharing traditional fishing knowledge, and communicating the importance of effective marine protected areas.
In addition, we have helped to encourage more public consumption of rabbitfish and other invasive species in order to increase their price and popularity on markets and in restaurants. In turn this encourages local fishers to target these invasive species, which have no natural predators in the Mediterranean and are causing widespread ecosystem damage such as overgrazing critical seabed habitats.
The results of this work are already being felt, with evidence of marine ecosystem recovery, increasing stocks of commercially important species such as groupers, improving fisheries income and the return of Mediterranean monk seals and other top predators to the bay.
Such has been the success of the initiative that the Turkish government has announced its willingness to support the replication of this community-based approach along the Mediterranean coastline.