(Also see Marine turtle conservation in Turkey)
More marine protection for Turkey’s Lycian coast
Posted on 13 December 2006
Kaş, Turkey – In a milestone achievement for marine conservation in Turkey, the government has increased protection off the country’s south-west coast.
The popular diving area of Kaş has been added to the specially protected Kekova marine area to further conserve the area’s rich underwater biodiversity.
The new Kaş-Kekova Specially Protected Area, initially proposed by WWF-Turkey, now covers 29,000ha – including some 3,000ha of ocean off the Lycian Coast between the Patara dunes and Antalya.
“Kaş is the perfect case for a marine protected area,” said Dr Filiz Demirayak, Director of WWF-Turkey.
“It is both rich in marine biodiversity and staggeringly beautiful. More importantly, it offers a great potential for sustainable tourism as it is the diving center of Turkey.”
As part of the Lycian Coast Ecoregion Conservation and Sustainable Tourism Project, WWF-Turkey conducted a comprehensive survey of marine biodiversity, which includes coral reefs, posidonia meadows, grouper and numerous other fish species.
Over 600 dives were completed along the 200km Lycian coastline to finalize the marine survey, which includes GIS maps and coordinates of the new protected area.
“We will continue our work to develop sustainable tourism projects and better environmental management,” Demirayak added.
WWF began working on the Lycian coast in 1996 to conserve nature and to promote responsible tourism. The aim is to prevent the creation of environmentally harmful mass tourism centers in the region, and to push for the planning of tourism activities in harmony with natural and cultural values.
• Currently some 220 million tourists visit the Mediterranean annually, and the number is expected to rise to 350 million by 2020. Turkey is one of the most popular destinations, with a massive expansion in tourism recorded since the 1980s. Over 14 million tourists visited the country in 2003.
• Mass tourism development is seriously threatening the natural wealth of the Mediterranean — destroying natural areas and habitats, resulting in an excessive use of resources (land, water, energy), and contributing to all forms of pollution (water, waste, and atmosphere). It also threatens the region’s cultural wealth, and often doesn’t contribute significantly to local income.