Gökova Bay in southwestern Turkey. Photo via Kaptan Haber
Enjoyed by holidaymakers since the time of the Roman Empire, Sedir Island off Turkey's southwest coast is home to one of Forbes magazine's most "breathtaking beaches." Its unusually fine sand, said to have been imported from Egypt by Mark Antony for Cleopatra's visits, takes so long to form that sunbathing was banned on the beach in 2007 to try and preserve it. The effort has been successful, and so, it seems, has the larger project to protect the island's surroundings.Gökova Bay, near the Aegean city of Muğla, has in some ways been a victim of its own popularity and natural richness, with its blue waters threatened by pollution from yacht tours and its marine life depleted by illegal fishing. Since the beginning of 2006, the European Union-funded Gökova Integrated Coastal Management program, which called for the sunbathing ban on Cleopatra's Beach, has been working with local residents to address those and other issues.
Array of eco-friendly efforts
The wide-ranging project has included efforts to support small-scale fishermen, protect natural areas and species, administer the area's historic ruins, expand recreational opportunities while limiting damage to beaches, regulate the quality of costal waters, and conduct underwater studies. It has helped create a waste-disposal system for the tourist yachts and limited boat traffic on certain tributaries while adding natural walking paths along the water so people can enjoy the area in a more eco-friendly way.
Public participation has been a cornerstone of the campaign, which has included public meetings, conferences, workshops and panels on the area's natural life--including a special educational effort targeted at kids--and the impacts of sea pollution, fishing, and coastal erosion.
As the three-year project wraps up, Turkey’s first integrated coastal management plan is being held up as an example, not just for the rest of the country, but for other nations as well. EU representative Etienne Baijot has called the 1-million-euro Gökova project the best among those sponsored in 10 Mediterranean countries. Via: "Gökova Project sets an example for Europe," Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review
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