The Mediterranean is the most overfished sea in the world and Turkey’s ‘turquoise coast’ is no exception. This fragile marine environment is home to several threatened species as well as vital carbon-storing seagrass habitat, but unsustainable fishing practices are compounded here by the added pressures of invasive species, climate change and coastal development. FFI and local partner, Akdeniz Koruma Derneği (AKD), have been supporting ecosystem recovery in this area since 2012, by patrolling six no-fishing zones and engaging with communities in Gökova Bay. This protected area model was so successful that it is now being rolled out across a further 350 km2, with plans for further expansion. Community engagement remains a key feature in the management of this new network of MPAs, which stretches along 500 km of coastline and includes several no-fishing zones.


We are promoting the recovery of Turkey’s marine environment along its Mediterranean coastline by:

  • Working with fishers to regulate fishing, remove incentives for illegal activity, and ensure that those who operate within the law can benefit from their marine resources. 
  • Helping threatened species and marine habitats to recover by increasing the resilience of marine ecosystems.
  • Enabling fish stocks to recover, thus improving small-scale fisher livelihoods and increasing the availability of prey for marine predators.
  • Exploring, evaluating and introducing revenue streams that promote sustainable natural resource use by local stakeholders while diversifying livelihoods.
  • Working with local people and government to expand the network of marine protected areas along 500 km of coastline (including designation and active protection of full no-fishing zones.

Our work

FFI supported AKD to develop a successful ranger programme to ensure active patrolling of Gökova Bay’s no-fishing zones and enforcement of existing fisheries legislation, and also provided capacity building support to the local fishing cooperative. This resulted in signs of ecosystem recovery as well as a reduction in threats and improved livelihoods for local fishers.

AKD now coordinates patrols to reduce the threat of destructive and illegal fishing practices in the expanded areas of protection in Gökova, Kaş and Göcek. AKD also closely monitors populations of important species such as the endangered Mediterranean monk seal, conducts research assessing the health of key habitats such as seagrass, raises awareness around the consumption of invasive species, and supports local fishing cooperatives to record fish catch and monitor fish stocks. AKD’s work with the Turkish government resulted in the significant expansion of the marine protected area network in 2020, and FFI is playing an important supporting role in this expanded area of work.

Key milestones

  • 2020

    Turkish Government formally expands its marine protected area network by 350 km2, including new no-fishing zones

  • 2020

    First use of man-made seal ledge for pupping by a female monk seal as part of cave habitat restoration work

  • 2019

    Inception of the Endangered Landscapes Programme project, which is significantly expanding conservation efforts and monitoring along 500 km of Turkey’s coastline

  • 2013

    Zafer Kizilkaya, president of AKD, wins Whitley Gold Award

  • 2012

    FFI and local partner AKD begin work in Gökova Bay

Project partners

  • Akdeniz Koruma Derneği (AKD) / Mediterranean Conservation Society
  • UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC)