PRESSURE ON THE ENDANGERED MEDITERRANEAN SEA TURTLE IS INCREASING DUE TO THE GROWING IMPACT OF TOURISM ON IMPORTANT NESTING BEACHES BOTH IN GREECE AND IN TURKEY (Two examples) Lily Ε. VENIZELOS UNEP. Roll of Honour "Global 500'' - Athens Academy Award-Founder MEDASSET (Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles) c/o Daphni Corp.; 24. Park Towers, 2 Brick Street, London WIY 7DF, The United Kingdom 1 (C) Licabitou Street, 106 72 Athens, Greece
The last few known remaining important nesting beaches of endangered marine turtles in the Mediterranean are threatened with development, tourist invasion, and pollution. Destruction of their coastal environment is also unavoidable. In Greece and in Turkey sensitive ecosystems adjacent to important nesting beaches have already been destroyed in order to build hotels, airports, golf courses, etc. In Greece laws protecting nesting sites and the turtle are not being implemented. Turkey needs stronger legislation for their protection. A survey for accidental captures by fishermen in both countries is imminent. The impact of uncontrolled tourism and coastal development has been responsible for the total destruction of nesting beaches in several Mediterranean countries. Human greed accelerates with growing tourism. Destruction of nesting beaches does not only affect turtle reproduction, it also affects "Μaη the Developer" as his greed cannot be sustained for ever. A "broken" ecosystem, could soon drive away another species, the tourist! Research, in the Mediterranean, on the impact of tourism on the Environment has not yet been very extensive and most of it has been undertaken after, rather than before damage has occurred. The process of "change" related to tourism development has yet to be studied. For example: 1. Turkey has made considerable effort to minimise effects of development in some breeding areas (Dalyan 1988). On the other hand, one of the important nesting beaches, Patara (Antalya) is in imminent danger of major tourism development (1989) that also includes an airport. A Lycian temple has already been bulldozed to make way for a road. Another road has been built to carry the construction vehicles. The 200 strong population of the village of Patara have raised a petition, counting over 500 signatures against tourist development in that area. Turkey set an example in 1988 by stopping tourist development on Dalyan nesting beach, a gesture greatly admired in Europe and applauded at the Council of Europe's meeting (Standing Committee) Dec. 88. 2. In Greece the island of Zakynthos has in Laganas Βay the largest known single concentration of nesting (Caretta caretta) sea turtles in the Mediterranean. Presidential Decrees (1984) Ministerial Decisions (19871988), Council of Europe's Recommendations (1988), International Conventions, and campaigns by several international organisations (1986 - 1989) have met the Government's and the Local Administration’s indifference and inactivity. As a result, illegal buildings and walls, sun umbrellas, deck chairs, tables, boats and pedalloes mushroom on nesting beaches and prevent turtles from nesting. Horses mopeds, cars, bicycles and bulldozers abuse "protected" beaches. At night noise and light from discotheques, hotels and night flights disorientate and frighten turtles. Zones regulating sea traffic are being violated daily by fast speedboats, jetskis and private yachts. Researchers, partly financed by the Government, are being intimidated and driven away from nesting beaches by local affected landowners and by illegal sun umbrella "operators". These endangered Mediterranean turtles are caught accidentally (Spain, Malta, Ptc.) or deliberately at sea (Tunisia). This action coupled with the destruction of their habitat will prove to b~ fatal for the species. "Conservation is not merely a consideration, but an urgent imperative". Dalyan and Laganas Bay should become National Parks as soon as possible.