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Marine Turtle Conservation in the Mediterranean

Update on Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) Conservation Monitoring in Kazanli, Turkey Submitted to: th The 28 Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) September 5th 2008 MEDASSET The Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles Prepared by Dr Max Kasparek

Honourable Delegates, The population of the green turtle, Chelonia mydas, is regarded as globally endangered, and Kazanli in southern Turkey is one of the species’ most important nesting beaches in the Mediterranean. The Kazanli beach had been subject to gradual degradation since the 1980’s, with only limited action by the Turkish authorities to stop the process. After MEDASSET alerted authorities and drew significant public attention to the release of toxic waste into the sea off the nesting beach from the beachside soda-chrome factory in 2001; more efforts were spent for the preservation of this area. During the last years, the situation has improved under the leadership of a new local administration. Both the Bern Convention and MEDASSET have contributed significantly to trigger these improvements. The situation at Kazanli has been reported several times in the Recommendations of the Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. Concerns about adverse human effects on the turtle population finally lead to an on-the-spot appraisal mission in 2002. The results are available in document T-PVS (2002) 2. In the same year the Standing Committee issued a specific Recommendation on the “Conservation of marine turtles in Kazanli beach (Turkey)” and opened a case file. After some conservation problems had been addressed, and having achieved better overallprotection of the area, the Standing Committee at its 24th Meeting (29.11.-3.12.2004) followed the Recommendation by the Meeting of the Bureau to close the file for the time being, requesting that the Turkish Government continue reporting on the situation. However, the Turkish Government did not follow that request, and did not report on the conservation status of Kazanli in the 2005 Bern Convention meeting, and no delegation of the Turkish Government attended that meeting either. In 2006 the Turkish Government submitted a brief report, but again did not send a delegate to the Standing Committee meeting. In 2007, information by the Government of Turkey was received too late for the Bureau to be able to consider it at its meeting in March 2007 and so the Bureau agreed to include this issue in the agenda of its September meeting as a “possible case file”. The Bureau agreed to keep this issue in the agenda. After having discussed the issue in the 2007 Standing Committee Meeting, the Committee decided not to open a file but to request Turkey for 2008 a report on the progress in implementing the 2002 Recommendation. The Government of Turkey has made progress in implementing the 14 points of the 2002 Recommendation. The underwater part of the jetty was removed in order to reduce beach erosion; some illegal buildings and a parking place next to the beach were removed; plastic rubbish is collected on a more or less regular basis. However, a few significant issues still remain unsolved:

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The greenhouses were moved only 5 metres inland from the beach, which is regarded as an insufficient measure. Due to the significant loss of beach by heavy erosion from the sea side, urgent measures for the rehabilitation of the beach (especially section K3) are necessary. MEDASSET do not see how the Government of Turkey will take action to combat beach erosion. As far as we understand, the Government has not even a concept how to handle this issue. A chrome factory on Kazanli has deposited 1.5 million tons of chemical waste directly onto the nesting beach. The waste has a high concentration of toxic chromium (Cr 3+/6+) compounds, and is a by-product of the factory’s activities of the 1990s. The removal of this hazardous waste from the beach has high priority for environmental and human health. Although the Government of Turkey reported in 2007 that a special solution has been found to deal with the toxic waste, not action on the ground is visible. MEDASSET calls on the Government of Turkey and the chrome factory to disclose their plans to put the hazardous waste in a safe place far from the sea and to start implementing without delay.

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Published without a T-PVS reference: Update on Green Turtle (Chelonia Mydas) Conservation Monitoring