Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline is home to a wealth of wildlife including Mediterranean monk seals, sandbar sharks and dusky groupers. Yet this unique marine environment faces many threats including unsustainable fishing. Together with our local partner, AKD, we are working to expand protection and enable recovery of this ecosystem through a network of marine protected areas (MPAs).
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:
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.
Turkish Government formally expands its marine protected area network by 350 km2, including new no-fishing zones
First use of man-made seal ledge for pupping by a female monk seal as part of cave habitat restoration work
Inception of the Endangered Landscapes Programme project, which is significantly expanding conservation efforts and monitoring along 500 km of Turkey’s coastline
Zafer Kizilkaya, president of AKD, wins Whitley Gold Award
FFI and local partner AKD begin work in Gökova Bay
Berry Mulligan, Marine Programme Manager, Eurasia
The world’s coastal and marine habitats are among the most threatened and – until recently – the most neglected on our planet. FFI’s marine strategy is designed to safeguard species, habitats and livelihoods through effective protection and management of marine ecosystems; encourage more enlightened policy and practice; and ensure the long-term sustainability of conservation measures by developing a network of strong organisations to take forward marine conservation in their own countries.
We are grateful for support from the Endangered Landscapes Programme, managed by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and funded by Arcadia (a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin) for this project.