The Middle East and North Africa countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea – Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Morocco and the Gaza Strip – host a vast variety of species and habitats. At the same time multiple threats affect the marine and coastal environment in the region, such as pollution, climate change, fisheries, coastal development and habitat loss. Sea turtles occur in all waters of the Middle East and N.Africa region.
Aggregations of loggerheads occur in the Alboran Sea and off the Libyan, Egyptian and Tunisian coasts, which host important sea turtle feeding habitats. Loggerheads nest in Libya, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and to a lesser extent in Syria and Tunisia. Green turtles nest in Syria, and at lower numbers in Egypt, Lebanon, and Israel.
At the eastern part of the Mediterranean basin, Lebanon’s coastline extends over 240 km in length and is considered a biodiversity hotspot. There are very few sandy beaches, and most are not in good condition. Sea turtles nest on some of these beaches. Loggerheads nest at moderate numbers mainly in El Mansouri and El Koliala, the Tyre Coast Nature Reserve, Palm Islands Nature Reserve, El Abbassieh (Aabbassiye), El Bourgheliye. Green turtles nest at low numbers in the south, where sandy beaches are longer, mainly in El Mansouri, El Abbassieh and the Tyre Coast Nature Reserve. Sea turtles have been reported using the Nahr Ibrahim , Areeda, Litani and Damour estuaries for feeding (IUCN, Lebanon’s Marine Protected Area Strategy). Leatherbacks have been reported at sea, incidentally caught in fishing nets. Anthropogenic threats to the species and their habitats include coastal development, sand mining, litter, dynamite fishing, erosion while the impact of military operations remain unknown. Lebanon has signed and ratified the Barcelona Convention and the Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP, 1975), as well as the Action Plan for the conservation of marine turtles in the Mediterranean (1999).