Press Release: Shipyard construction plans threatening endangered sea turtle nesting beach in Fethiye, Turkey
- Posted by MEDASSET
- advocacy, bern convention, caretta caretta, Turkey
8 April 2011: Fethiye-Göcek Specially Protected Area (SPA – listed under the Barcelona Convention since 1988) includes one of the 12 most significant Caretta caretta  nesting beaches in Turkey. Pressures due to unplanned construction and developments to accommodate tourism activities on the nesting beaches at Fethiye have continuously been increasing since 1988, resulting in a scientifically documented dramatic drop in nesting.
An additional development is currently being considered by Turkish Authorities: the relocation of the shipyard/drydock currently situated within Fethiye town, to the very middle of Fethiye’s Akgöl nesting beach (a.k.a Karaot District) seems to be imminent. During 2007 – 2009, two-thirds of all nests in Akgöl were laid next to the planned project area, i.e. on the sandy sections of the beach. In 2010, almost half of all nests in Fethiye were laid in Akgöl. The shipyard/drydock project would permanently and irrevocably destroy the key nesting sites of Akgöl beach and affect the already declining nest numbers in Fethiye SPA.
This project will lead to increased human presence on the beach, construction of new roads accessing the beach, new buildings, major lighting installations, mooring installations, noise, oil, solvent and paint pollution. The planned construction of a huge jetty and dockage installations in front of the shipyard will cause severe light pollution and vessel traffic that will affect nesting and hatching of the sea turtles. The jetty will inevitably change the water current and wave conditions, leading to coastal erosion and alteration of the structure of the entire beach, including the beach sections that still serve for nesting. Moreover, the facilities will effectively split this small beach in two, destroying its integrity.
At a public meeting held in Fethiye on March 3rd 2011 to discuss this project, it was reported that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process has been finalised and will be delivered to the Turkish Authorities, concluding that the shipyard/drydock construction should be allowed. It was announced that the project will occupy a total of 92.040,38 m2 (72.380,22 m2 inland and 19.660,16 m2 on the coast). Buildings will cover 14.643 m2, three lift/cranes with 300-600 tons capacity will be installed and 400-500 people will work in the shipyard.
The project will not only impact the nesting beach in Akgöl, but will also adversely affect the entire nesting region in Fethiye. The above development, occurring within an important SPA, opposes modern integrated coastal management practices, is against all sea turtle conservation policies, laws and International Conventions and is fully incompatible with Fethiye’s SPA status. A potential approval of such a project contradicts the conservation plan submitted by Turkey in 2010 to the Bern Convention and
reassurances that they will “establish a protection and control unit to safeguarding improper marine and coastal activities” in Fethiye.
MEDASSET has already alerted the Bern Convention, the Barcelona Convention and the European Commission and has called for action to prevent this development before it is too late. Objection to the project has also been expressed to the relevant Turkish Authorities. Local conservation organisations and civil society groups have also demonstrated their opposition to the project. The 2000 signatures collected in opposition to the construction of the shipyard in the area were delivered to the Muğla Provincial Directorate of Environment and Forests; a protest was also organised on October 1st 2010.
MEDASSET appeals to the decision-makers of Turkey to adhere to the conservation standards underlying a SPA; to take into account the importance of Fethiye for the endangered sea turtle population in the Mediterranean, and reject the construction of a shipyard/drydock within this critical nesting habitat in Fethiye SPA.
 Listed as endangered under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.1, International Union for Conservation of Nature
 MEDASSET submitted a complaint to the Bern Convention Secretariat in August 2009 regarding the destruction of nesting beaches at Fethiye SPA due to nonexistent conservation measures: beach furniture, vehicles, construction and operation of businesses directly on the nesting beaches; unrestricted access to the beach day and night during the nesting and hatching period; litter; light pollution; sand removal, motorised watersports and fishing directly off all three of Fethiye’s nesting beaches.
 Türkozan, 2000; Türkozan, 2003; Oruç et al. 2003; Ilgaz et al. 2007
 Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France
 Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean.