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Strasbourg, 30 September [files11e_2004.doc]

T-PVS/Files (2004) 11


Standing Committee

24th meeting Strasbourg, 29 November-3 December 2004

Specific file

Green turtle Chelonia mydas In Turkey

Report by the NGO

Document prepared by MEDASSET (The Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles), Marine Turtle Conservation in the Mediterranean

This document will not be distributed at the meeting. Please bring this copy. Ce document ne sera plus distribué en réunion. Prière de vous munir de cet exemplaire.

T-PVS/Files (2004) 11

Marine Turtle Conservation in the Mediterranean

MONITORING GREEN TURTLE (Chelonia mydas) CONSERVATION IN TURKEY Report to the 24th Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) Prepared by Dr Max Kasparek MEDASSET The Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles

INTRODUCTION To encourage action for the conservation of the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) in the eastern Mediterranean, the Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) opened a case file at its 20th Meeting in 2000. The Green turtle is a globally endangered species and in the Mediterranean the species is considered as critically endangered IUCN 2000 with only 200 – 300 nesting females remaining, and 99% of all recorded nesting in the Mediterranean occurring in Cyprus and Turkey, and 78% of all nests concentrated at only five key nesting beaches, thus making the Mediterranean population highly vulnerable (Kasparek & al 2001). Turkey holds by far the largest share of the Mediterranean population, and nesting is mostly concentrated on three beaches: Akyatan, Kazanli and Samandag. These three beaches are under serious threat. Since 1992 MEDASSET’s regular surveys, part of a long-term monitoring programme of the Mediterranean turtle nesting beaches for Bern Convention updates have exerted pressure on the Turkish Government for enhanced protection and conservation. Following the first extensive survey of the Turkish coast for marine turtle nesting carried out by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 1988, (Baran & Kasparek 1989), and consecutive MEDASSET surveys and reports, the Bern Convention took action which resulted in a series of formal Recommendations that covered the conservation needs of the Green turtle and its habitats. The Kazanli nesting beach has been in the focus of the Convention since MEDASSET revealed the release of toxic waste from the beachside Soda Chrome factory onto the nesting beach and into the sea. This beach has been subject to a gradual degradation for many years, without significant action by the Turkish authorities to stop this process. Since 2000, the situation has improved. Both the Bern Convention and MEDASSET significantly contributed to this process. In 2004 MEDASSET continued their assessments, collecting information on the current conservation status to update the Convention about the Turkish Green turtle nesting beaches. This report examines the recent situation, makes recommendations for conservation and management, and throws a spotlight onto the role of the Convention towards protection of the Green turtle nesting beaches in Turkey.


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KAZANLI (4.5 km.) Kazanli is the second most important Green turtle nesting beach in the Mediterranean, and is seriously threatened by several factors. For detailed background information, reference should be made to the following Bern Convention Kazanli documents available on and - TopOfPage

- T-PVS (1999) 74 Report by the NGO: MEDASSET. - T-PVS (2000) 56 Report by MEDASSET. - T-PVS (2000) 73 Report by Turkish Government. - T-PVS (2001) 39 Report by the Secretariat of the Bern Convention. - T-PVS (2001) 70 Report by the NGO: MEDASSET. - T-PVS/Files (2002) 2 Report by the Secretariat of on-the-spot appraisal undertaken for the Council of Europe by M. Kasparek. - T-PVS/Files (2002) 20 Report by the Secretariat of the Bern Convention. - T-PVS/Files (2002) 17 Report by Turkish Government. - T-PVS/Files (2003) 14 Report by the NGO: MEDASSET.

From a conservation point of view Kazanli beach is the most problematic turtle nesting beach in the Mediterranean. It holds an outstanding Green turtle population, but faces numerous threats. Many can be attributed to the fact that the beach is situated in close vicinity to both an industrial area with a Soda Chrome factory, and to a human settlement. Despite the fact that as early as 1988 most conservation issues had already been identified by Baran & Kasparek (1989), and have subsequently been confirmed by numerous researchers and conservationists, the situation gradually got worse over the years. Public interest in Kazanli increased in 2001, when the Soda Chrome factory discharged toxic liquids into the sea. This was brought to the attention of the Bern Secretariat and the public by MEDASSET who arranged for analysis of the seawater and started a campaign. The spill was thought to have caused the death of a large number of marine and Nile softshelled turtles. An on-the-spot appraisal on behalf of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention was carried out by M. Kasparek in May 2002. The Committee subsequently adopted Recommendation No. 95 (2002) and decided in its meeting 2-5 December 2002 to keep the “Green turtle case file� open. The following year a status report was provided by MEDASSET in document T-PVS/Files (2003) 14, monitoring the developments. Following public pressure, initiated last but not least by the Bern Convention, the Chrome factory has since 2001 made significant progress in reducing its environmental impact. New facilities for the industrial treatment of toxic liquids have been installed, chimneys for discharging aerial pollutants have been demolished, and the factory now puts significant efforts into acting in a more transparent way: The results of waste water monitoring, for example, are made public by real-time publication on a computerised system. A monitor showing the actual discharge values has been set up in the centre of the town of Kazanli, and everybody can observe the results. However, still no serious attempts have been made to find a solution for the 1.5 million tons of hazardous waste which has been produced by the Soda Chrome factory in the past and which has been deposited on the beach next to the sea. To avoid the dispersal of the toxic waste into the environment by wind and rain, the factory covered the waste with plastic sheeting. This, however, can be regarded at best as a temporary solution for a couple of years. Neither the factory nor the Turkish authorities (Ministry for Environment and Forestry) have so far taken serious steps towards solving this problem. As far as we understand, no professional pre-feasibility study has yet been commissioned by the factory to identify options for rendering the hazardous waste harmless, or removing it.


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Beach erosion has been a serious problem in Kazanli especially the last two years, and has increased considerably in 2004. A jetty that belonged to the soda-Chrome factory was earlier identified as being responsible for causing the beach erosion, and the factory demolished this jetty in 2002. However, it is now apparent that only those parts of the jetty above the water have been removed. The foundations of the jetty remain still causing accelerated beach erosion. According to the preliminary results of Caglayan Elmaz from Mersin University (Faculty of Water Products), erosion in beach section K3 in 2004 caused the destruction of some 75 nests, which is 15-20% of that years nests in Kazanli. Seventy-five nests are a highly significant part of the Mediterranean Green turtle population, and thus of the highest importance.


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Recommendations: Bern Convention Recommendation No. 95 (2002) lists fourteen points needing special action. The following table examines whether they have been implemented since then. The table only briefly describes the recommendations. For the full description see Recommendation No. 95 (2002) in TPVS/ Files (2002) 2. Recommendations

Implemented yes partly no no


Remove greenhouses in beach section K3


Remove taxi (dolmus) parking area



Remove plastic debris


4. 5.

Screen lights Monitoring of chemical waste discharge Monitoring of beach erosion Promote public awareness Implement environmental plan (ÂŤ cevre dĂźzeni plani Âť)

6. 7. 8. 9.

Remarks According to the Mayor of Kazanli, no funds for compensation payments are available New parking place to the rear of the beach Collected three times in 2004, but new plastic debris is continuously washed ashore

partly Monitor display established in the centre of Kazanli

yes yes yes yes

Remove illegal building in K1


10. Remove hazardous waste


11. Relocate wedding hall 12. Construct sewage treatment plant for Kazanli

no no

13. Look for appropriate solutions for houses built legally on the beach 14. Reduce impact of agrochemicals

no partly

Plan adopted in 2004; beach sections K1-K3 allocated as conservation area Part of installation removed, some still present Not even pre-feasibility study commissioned Canalization under construction, no activities for sewage treatment. People started living in the houses, no light screening. Some attempts at bio-farming undertaken.

Beach erosion has so far progressed in recent years that the long-standing issue of the removal of the greenhouses in beach section K3 must be considered in a slightly different way: the greenhouses now are no longer situated in the sand dunes or at their edges, as these dunes have been almost completely eroded. They are now situated on pure soil, and their removal will thus not gain additional nesting grounds for turtles. In fact, the seafront of the greenhouses has already relocated some 2 m towards the rear, in order not to suffer from the heavy erosion. The removal of the greenhouses in beach section K3 is still an urgent issue, and should be part of measures for beach rehabilitation. The Turkish Ministry of Tourism has declared the coastal strip between the border of Kazanli Municipality and the mouth of Seyhan river a tourism investment area. This plan covers an area of 2300 ha. foreseeing tourist installations with a total capacity of 11,000 beds. It includes 11 hotels, two golf courses and one camping facility. 23% of the total investment area will be covered with buildings. This part of the coast is not a ma-


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jor nesting area for Green turtles, but it includes a number of threatened habitats including the habitats of the Nile Soft-shelled Turtle (Trionyx triunguis) (see Recommendation No. 105 (2003) of the Standing Committee, addressed on 4 December 2003, on the conservation of the Nile soft-shelled turtle Trionyx triunguis in Turkey). An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should have been carried out prior to declaring the area an investment area. An EIA must be carried out as an urgent issue before any development is allowed. Marine activities associated with such a development would have a severe impact on the nearby Green turtle nesting population. The Kazanli nesting beach was cleared of plastic debris three times in 2004, but with limited success: much plastic debris is washed ashore each time after clearing the beach, so these efforts show only limited effect. Conclusion: From the observations described here, it can be concluded that the Turkish authorities have made some further achievements for the protection of Kazanli beach. In particular the pollution caused by the Chrome factory has been reduced considerably in recent years, and the Bern Convention played a fundamental role in this. On the other hand, there is still not even a pre-feasibility study available to find a long-term solution for the 1.5 million tons of hazardous waste deposited on the beach. Also the greenhouses are still present in beach section K3, although this seems to be a problem relatively easy to solve. Measures to combat beach erosion now have high priority, as some 5-10% of all Mediterranean Green turtle nests have been lost there by erosion in 2004!

AKYATAN (21.7 km.) Akyatan is the most important Green turtle nesting beach in the Mediterranean, and holds 43% of the Mediterranean nesting population. For detailed background information, reference should be made to the following recent documents available on and - TopOfPage

- T-PVS (99) 74 Report by MEDASSET. - T-PVS (2000) 56 Report by MEDASSET. - T-PVS (2000) 73 Report by Turkish Government. - T-PVS (2001) 39 Report by the Secretariat of the Bern Convention. - T-PVS (2001) 70 Report by the NGO: MEDASSET. - T-PVS/Files (2003) 14 Report by the NGO: MEDASSET.

The survey in 2004 revealed that the situation remained more or less unchanged compared to previous years: • • • •

The area is relatively well protected from direct human interference. There is only limited access to the area, and the local Forestry Mission controls visitors. There is still a very high predation rate of turtle nests by jackals. It was found that roughly two thirds of all nests are predated. The beach and the sea in front of the beach are heavily polluted with litter, mainly plastic debris. This includes e.g. waste from hospitals (infusion bags, syringes), which are apparently dumped into the sea at Yumurtalik. There is some tourism development at the north-western end of the beach (holiday houses of local people), but this is outside the main nesting area and there were no new construction activities in 2004.


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For the future protection of the nesting beach, it is recommended: •

• •

To protect the nesting area as a “Biosphere Reserve” for which the Cukurova University (Department for Landscape Architecture) in the frame of a EU-Life project (LIFETCY/99/TR-087) has carried out the basic studies and has made the necessary preparations. The proposed Biosphere Reserve would give the entire delta area an overall protection status that would include the sand dune system, which is unique in the eastern Mediterranean. To establish regular measures for protecting turtle nests from predation by mammals. The application of metal grids over the nests is seen as an appropriate measure that takes into account that the population of the jackal is also endangered on a Mediterranean level. To collect the plastic debris from the beach at regular intervals outside the Green turtle nesting and hatching period. To monitor the nesting activities of Green turtles at Akyatan by annual surveys. A monitoring and protection programme should be set up with local volunteers under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Cukurova University. Turtle conservation experts should provide training for the participants.

SUGÖZÜ (approx. 2.0 km.) In the Iskenderun Bay near Sugözü, there are two small sandy beaches to the northeast of Yumurtalik. It was only found in 2003 that significant turtle nesting takes place there, and almost all nests can be attributed to Green turtles (Chelonia mydas). In 2004, generally a “good” Green turtle year in the Mediterranean, the total number of nests may be around 100 or even exceed this figure. Sugözü beaches are thus among the top Green turtle sites in the Mediterranean, and their protection needs special attention. Sugözü beaches are situated next to a large Power Station (BOTAS) completed in early 2004. Due to this, and also as the area is difficult to reach, there are practically no tourist activities on the beaches. An off-shore terminal of BOTAS is situated off the turtle beach, and another one for the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan Oil Pipeline is under construction. The turtle population is monitored by a team of the Ecological Research Society (EKAD), of Hacettepe University (Ankara), and is supported by the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline Environmental Investment Programme Turkey (see www.btcinvestment. com). The three-years project focuses on Sugözü and Akkum beaches, and also includes periodical surveys at Dörtyol beach (in the east), Yumurtalik beach (in the west), and Akyatan. BTC and EKAD are encouraged to provide at their earliest convenience a report which: • Assesses the Green turtle population and highlights its importance for the Mediterranean, • Provides information on potential threats to the nesting beaches, • Shows the impact or potential impact of various industrial off-shore activities (including construction activities) on the sea turtle population. It is important that a conservation report with precise recommendations for action will be published as soon as possible, i.e. it should not be delayed until the completion of the project.


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BIBLIOGRAPHY Baran, I. & M. Kasparek (1989) Marine turtles Turkey. Status survey 1988 and recommendations for conservation and management. WWF, Heidelberg. IUCN (2000) 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The IUCN Species Survival Commission. Kasparek, M., B. J. Godley & A. C. Broderick, 2001. Nesting of the Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, in the Mediterranean: a review of status and conservation needs. Zoology in the Middle East 24: 45-74. T-PVS (99) 74: F. Demirayak, commissioned by MEDASSET: Specific Site, Status of the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) on the Turkish Mediterranean Coast, 26 pages. T-PVS (2000) 56: MEDASSET: Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) on the Turkish Mediterranean Coast: Kazanli, Akyatan and Samandag, 13 pages. T-PVS (2000) 73: Turkish Government: Protection of sea turtles (Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas) in Turkey, 15 pages. T-PVS (2001) 39: Secretariat of the Bern Convention: Specific Site, Green turtle Chelonia mydas, 9 pages. T-PVS (2001) 70: Commissioned by MEDASSET, prepared by K. Corbett: Specific site, Conservation of the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) in Turkey, 18 pages. ADDENDUM to T-PVS (2001) 70: MEDASSET, information provided by Samandağ Çevre ve Turizim Derneği: Conservation priorities for the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) in Turkey: Samandag sandwinning in August 2001, 3 pages. T-PVS/Files (2002) 2: Secretariat of the Bern Convention: On-the-spot Appraisal Undertaken for the Council of Europe (12th-15th May, 2002) by Max Kasparek: Conservation of the marine turtles in Kazanli beach (Turkey), 6 pages. T-PVS/Files (2002) 17: Turkish Government: Conservation of the marine turtles in Kazanli beach (Turkey), 4 pages. T-PVS/Files (2002) 20: Secretariat of the Bern Convention: Green turtle Chelonia mydas in Kazanli (Turkey), 7 pages. T-PVS/Files(2003) 14. Commissioned by MEDASSET, prepared by Dr. Max Kasparek, Conservation Status of Green Turtle (Chelonia Mydas) in the Eastern Mediterranean: Kazanli, Akyatan, Samandag (Turkey), 9 pages.


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Geographic position of the Green turtle nesting beaches in the Mediterranean.

Others 22% Alagadi 6%

Akyatan 43%

Samandag 7%

Kazanli 12%

North Karpaz 10%

Green Turtle nesting in the Mediterranean: The figure shows the importance of the three Turkish nesting beaches Akyatan, Kazanli and Samandag. Altogether, they hold 62% of the Mediterranean nesting population.


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The jetty of the soda chrome factory at Kazanli beach in 1987. The upper parts of the jetty, i.e. those parts that emerge from the sea, were demolished in 2002 after pressure by conservationists and Turkish authorities but foundations still remain below water level causing serious accelerated beach erosion.

Greenhouses on Kazanli beach and the remains of the jetty - August 2004. Note that parts of the jetty remain giving rise to heavy beach erosion, to which in 2004 5-20% of the Mediterranean Green turtle population fell victim. Also note that the front of the greenhouses have already been demolished by the owner – not for turtle conservation, but because of beach erosion!


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Serious beach erosion at Kazanli beach. Note the fresh broken edge of sand, which took place in early August 2004. 5-20% of Mediterranean Green turtle nests were lost here in 2004.

Monitor display established by the soda Chrome factory in the centre of Kazanli Municipality. It allows viewers to follow the chemical composition of wastewater discharged into the sea by the factory. Following the campaign by MEDASSET and the subsequent activities by Bern Convention, the factory now acts in a much more transparent manner. Kazanli can be seen in some respects as a success story for the Convention, although much still needs to be done.


T-PVS/Files (2004) 11: Monitoring Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) conservation in Turkey  

Author: Commissioned by MEDASSET, prepared by Dr. Max Kasparek 11 pages

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