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Strasbourg, 30 September [files13e_2004.doc]

T-PVS/Files (2004) 13


Standing Committee

24th meeting Strasbourg, 29 November-3 December 2004

Document for information Update Report and Review of Nature Conservation

Measures in Patara SPA (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) 13

Marine Turtle Conservation in the Mediterranean

UPDATE REPORT AND REVIEW OF NATURE CONSERVATION MEASURES IN PATARA SPA, 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 MEDASSET The Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles

With grateful thanks to Tracey –Ann and Andrew Cutbush and Dr Pamir Yilmaz September 2004


Turkey is one of the main Mediterranean countries (with Greece and Cyprus) where major loggerhead nesting grounds are located (Groombridge, 1988). In Turkey, Patara beach is an important nesting site mainly for loggerhead turtle, first recorded during a survey conducted in 1988 (Baran and Kasparek, 1989). In 2000, two green turtle nests were also identified, representing the first record of this species in Patara (Erdogan et al., 2001), the westernmost substantiated site for Chelonia mydas nesting in the Mediterranean (Kasparek et al., 2001). Since 1988, there has been considerable concern for this nesting beach in case uncontrolled tourism development may cause the loss or degradation of an important turtle nesting habitat and an archaeological site. The depletion of nesting beaches due to tourism development is one of the main threats in the Mediterranean, where many coasts have been urbanised the past few decades (Venizelos, 2001,1989 - Baren & Kasparek, 1989). The Patara issue was first raised by MEDASSET in 1988 and has since been supported by others at the Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) Meetings, where it was subsequently discussed on a regular basis. After the Standing Committee expressed the wish to examine the case of marine turtles in Patara as an urgent case in January 1996 (T-PVS (96) 50), an on-the-spot appraisal was carried out on 21-23 August the same year in order to clarify open questions. The appraisal Report that followed (T-PVS (96) 65) made detailed Recommendations, and the Standing Committee decided in December 1996 to open a file on Patara in order to monitor the effectiveness of conservation measures. MEDASSET carried out a field survey in summer 1998, and subsequently submitted a report to the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention with detailed specific Recommendations for conservation and management (T-PVS (98) 49). Further updated reports and reviews of Conservation Measures were submitted in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. In view of the generally positive development it was decided at the 2001 Standing Committee Meeting to close the file despite some remaining problems. Turkey was asked to continue submitting reports to the Standing Committee on progress made. As a result of MEDASSET’s ongoing “Save Patara” campaign begun in 1989 in collaboration with Turkish archaeologist Prof. Icik of Antalya University, the Programme Officer of UNEP/MAP was invited by the Turkish government to visit Patara on 12 March 2002 regarding the campaign proposal of “World Heritage Site Status”.


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The aim of this review is to monitor the progress made since 2003 in implementing the Recommendations made by the Standing Committee for the protection of Patara as proposed in 1996 and in 1998.

SUMMER 2004. Patara Beach: •

Horse riding is taking place on the beach, witnessed first hand by reporters.

The beach kiosk is still in use and has added a wooden deck to the seated area added last year. This is above the level of the sand and further hinders progress of turtles up the beach to nest.

In 2004, the kiosk and sun-bed area was being run by the Merinem Resort Hotel (formerly known as the Beyhan Hotel). Guests at the hotel had free use of the facilities on presentation of a hotel wristband, but other visitors were charged a fee.

English tourists said that the vendors told them that the money was used for conservation of the turtle nesting sites and the beach, however no local residents were aware that the Merinem had such a scheme and it is possible that the money was not being used for this purpose.

As a result of the charges visitors who did not wish to pay used more of the beach to the east of the kiosk. In this area there were no litterbins and there was a notable increase in levels of litter over last year (plastic bottles, paper and diapers being the most common).

New signs have been installed to the east of the access road declaring that the beach should not be littered, however the signs are only in Turkish. There is no policing / monitoring of the beach to ensure that the beach is not being littered or misused in any way.

Despite there being an unused “restaurant” building at the other end of the beach access road there are still no plans to use this as an alternative to the kiosk on the beach. This could be used to encouraging people to leave the beach to eat possibly reducing litter.

• •

The number of sun-beds has increased considerably. There were at least 100 pairs of sun-beds complete with tables and umbrellas. The sunbeds now cover an area at least 100m wider than 2003 and are in 3 rows at least 20m deep. A further 30-50 beds were seen stacked further up the beach indicating an ability to increase the area if needed. The beach furniture was not removed or stacked at night but left in position on the beach. The umbrellas were merely stuck into the sand with the possibility of destroying sea turtle nests. Sun-beds, umbrellas with stands could be kept above the beach and hired on a deposit basis from the alternative kiosk mentioned earlier. This might encourage people to return them from the beach.

At each end of the sun-bed area there is a cordon of hazard tape and posts. At the eastern end hand written signs declared that it is forbidden to use the beach beyond, as it is a conservation area for the turtles. At the west end there were no such signs.


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Some local opinion considered that in fact the long term plan for this unofficial sectioning of the beach was intended more for the eventual “privatisation and commercialisation” of the east end of the beach for more sun-bed users as opposed to any long term conservation plan. • •

Beach access after the 20:00 curfew; it was noted that at this time people were still arriving at the beach and there were no police or gendarmes present to prevent them. There were 5 marked nests. 1 to the west of the beach kiosk and 5 to the east of the kiosk. A further 3 nests to the west of the kiosk were possibly predated identifiable by numerous eggshells strewn about them. With the increased number of people in this area of the beach due to the sectioning and fees mentioned earlier, these nests were at times within 4m of sunbathers. Footprints and dog tracks were seen around these nests.

Cayaozi: •

The rubbish site polluting the water table seen in 2003 seems to have been bulldozed over and filled in. It is unclear as to whether the rubbish had first been removed or not.

Although sand extraction sites were not observed, trucks laden with sand were seen coming from Cayaozi.

New signs were present but again were only in Turkish.

An increased volume of rubbish especially glass and plastics was seen around the river estuary.

The beach is becoming steeper and strewn with dead vegetation due to the planting of shrubs to protect the dunes. This is having a deleterious effect on the sea turtle nesting environment.

Fencing in this area to prevent vehicle access is almost non-existent.

Camping is a problem on the riverbanks, within view of the beach.

Letoon: •

The kiosk here is run by the local authorities and appears to be tidier and cleaner than 2003. Separate bins for plastics, glass and paper are set at 50m intervals on the beach. However these are not being used properly.

A barrier still exists to prevent vehicle access to the beach, but there is still camping on the riverbanks, in view of the beach.

Only 2 sun-beds were observed on this beach and none were seen stacked elsewhere. No umbrellas were seen stuck in the sand.

Letoon seems to be faring well under local control as opposed to the system employed in Patara.


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CONCLUSIONS On the whole it seems that Patara is moving more towards a more formal privatised commercial use for the beach under the guise of funding “conservation”. The consequences of this are seen as more sunbeds, umbrellas, and litter, greater permanence for the installation of the kiosk actually on the beach. Higher rubbish levels. Greater use of the beach to the east of the access road. Turkish language sign posting has increased but is serving more for a “show” rather than being informative for foreign tourist beach users. There is still no clarity for users as to how the beach should be used and where. Five years ago MEDASSET wrote to the Turkish Ministry of the Environment offering to finance, produce and position multi language signs on the turtle nesting beaches. No reply was received.


An existing resource, the off beach “restaurant / kiosk” is not being used. This area could have deposit based sunbed / beach mat hire, a central rubbish depository to help encourage people to remove their litter, an educational bilingual display about the turtles explaining the need for protecting the beach. It could also house a base for beach patrols giving them a comfortable refuge from the heat of the day after completing their patrols.

An organised non-mechanised weekly litter collection on the beach could reduce rubbish levels significantly.

Cayaozi if left in its current state will become a steep bank of sand interspersed with Acacia rendering it useless to turtles and man alike.

All areas would benefit from the Turkish Authorities taking an “extra step”, providing more practical assistance for the protection and conservation of the sea turtle nesting habitats rather than relying on academic intervention to merely record the demise of their extremely beautiful and unique south coast.

Few tourists will want to visit a barren, degraded environment.

ENVIRONMENTAL SITUATION AND TECHNICAL REPORTS PRESENTED BY MEDASSET TO THE STANDING COMMITTEE TO THE CONVENTION ON THE CONSERVATION OF EUROPEAN WILDLIFE AND NATURAL HABITATS (BERN CONVENTION) AT THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE, PUBLISHED UNDER T-PVS REFERENCE: Updated reports prepared from 1990 and published as T-PVS since 1996: T-PVS (96) 53A: MEDASSET (P. Yilmaz, University of Akdeniz): Conservation of Loggerhead Turtles, Caretta caretta, and Construction Projects on the Beach of Patara (Turkey), 2 pages. (Follow-up report with Comments on the: ‘Status Report on Patara Specially Protected Area, Turkey’ by the Authority for the Protection of Special Areas, APSA (23/5/96)). T-PVS (96) 53: MEDASSET: Conservation of Loggerhead Turtles, Caretta caretta, and Construction Projects on the Beach of Patara (Turkey), 9 pages. (Brief Update on MEDASSET’s action to “Save Patara” 1989-1996). T-PVS (97) 45: P. Yilmaz, University of Akdeniz: Marine Turtle Conservation in Patara, Turkey, follow-up report, 4 pages. T-PVS (98) 49: MEDASSET (additional information P. Yilmaz, University of Akdeniz): Specific Site, Marine Turtle Conservation in Patara, Turkey, 13 pages. T-PVS (99) 69: MEDASSET: Specific Site, Caretta caretta in Patara (Turkey), 11 pages. (Status Report and Review of Nature Conservation Measures). T-PVS (2000) 57: MEDASSET, (information supplied by P. Yilmaz, Univerity of Akdeniz and Trevor Jones): Conservation of the marine turtle, Caretta caretta, in Patara Turkey, 13 pages. (Update Report and Review of Nature Conservation Measures). T-PVS (2001) 72: MEDASSET, (information supplied by P. Yilmaz, University of Akdeniz, Trevor Jones and 4 volunteers): Review of Nature Conservation Situation in Patara Spa, Turkey, 11 pages. T-PVS/Files (2002) 14: MEDASSET, (information supplied by P. Yilmaz, Univerity of Akdeniz): Update Report and Review of Nature Conservation Measures in Patara SPA (Turkey), 10 pages. T-PVS/Files (2003) 12: Commissioned by MEDASSET, prepared by Dr. Monica Aureggi, Update Report and Review of Nature Conservation Measures in Patara SPA (Turkey), 25 pages.


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Photo 1: August 2004: Kiosk, facilities, summer beachfront furniture and hazard taped “end”. Hand written information sign (in English) about the sea turtles “forbidding” the use of that area of beach at night. © 2004 MEDASSET, Photo: T.A and A. Cutbush

Photo 2: August 2004: Beach kiosks, facilities, wooden walkway and beach front summer furniture on Patara’s main nesting area. ©

2004 MEDASSET, Photo: T.A and A. Cutbush

Photo 3: August 2004: Beach erosion, vehicle tracks and rubbish in the washed up matter at the river estuary in Cayaozi. ©

2004 MEDASSET, Photo: T.A and A. Cutbush


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Photo 4a: Cayaozi: Rubbish disposal area 2001-2003. © Copyright 2001 MEDASSET, Photo: T.A and A. Cutbush

Photo 4b: August 2004: Same area with new sign. Rubbish dump has been filled in. © 2004 MEDASSET, Photo: T.A and A. Cutbush

Map of the Patara beach and SPA. The dotted lines show the borders of areas which have been protected as “archaeological sites”.


T-PVS/Files (2004) 13: Update report and review of Nature Conservation measures in Patara Spa  

Author: Commissioned by MEDASSET, information supplied by T.A. Cutbush, A. Cutbush and Dr. P. Yilmaz 7 pages

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