Project Rationale


Within the marine areas bordering Turkey’s lengthy coastline is found an abundant, highly diverse and globally significant biodiversity endowment. Overall, some 3,000 plant and animal species have been identified in Turkey’s territorial sea. Among these are about 20 species of marine mammals, including: two endangered species of sea turtle, the loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and the green (Chelonia mydas), and; the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), one of Europe’s most endangered species, of which fewer than 100 individuals still survive along Turkish coasts. Some 480 species of marine fish have been identified in Turkish waters, of which 50% are believed to be in danger of local extirpation. Economically important fish species include anchovyhorse mackerel, bonito,sardine, bluefish, mullet and turbot. Avian fauna dependent on Turkey’s marine environment include Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii), as well as the migratory summer visitor Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae).

The major threats facing Turkey’s marine areas are habitat degradation associated with changes in coastal human populations and distributions and associated sea/coast use pressures. Protected areas have a potentially significant, yet largely unrealized, role to play in eliminating these threats to marine area biodiversity in Turkey.

Currently, about 4% of Turkey’s territorial waters is protected. The proposed long-term solution for marine biodiversity conservation in Turkey’s territorial sea is a reconfigured Marine and Coastal Protected Area (MCPA) network designed to protect biodiversity while optimizing its ecological service functions – under effective and sustainable adaptive management. This long-term solution is seen to rest on three main pillars.

First, the solution depends on adequate capacities on the part of key management agencies to identify, and focus suitable management efforts on, highly sensitive and/or biologically significant areas within the existing MCPA structure, while also being able to target gaps in representation that can be filled through MCPA expansion.

Second, it requires a system of sustainable financing involving the integration of sustainable financing mechanisms and the application of economics into the planning and management of MCPAs.

Third, the solution needs to be based on effective mechanisms for inter-sectoral co-operation that bring to bear the relevant strengths of various management agencies and branches of Government and civil society to solve marine biodiversity conservation challenges.

The key barriers to the long-term solution act by preventing the emergence and operation of the above three pillars. These barriers are:

(i) Limited capacities and skills for gaps analysis and ‘sensitive areas’ identification and management; 
(ii) Deficiencies related to long term sustainable finance are hampering management capacity and the expansion of MCPAs, and; 
(iii) Competing and/or overlapping jurisdictions and responsibilities for conservation and use of the SEPAs are combined with inadequate mechanisms for inter-sectoral co-ordination and bureaucratic conflict.



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