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Strasbourg, 5 October 2005 [files10e_2005.doc]

T-PVS/Files (2005) 10

CONVENTION ON THE CONSERVATION OF EUROPEAN WILDLIFE AND NATURAL HABITATS

Standing Committee

25th meeting Strasbourg, 28 November-1 December 2005

Document for information

Report on Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) Conservation Monitoring in Kazanli (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.


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Marine Turtle Conservation in the Mediterranean Report on Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) Conservation Monitoring in Kazanli, Turkey Submitted to: The 25th Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) October 3rd 2005 MEDASSET The Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles Prepared by Dr Max Kasparek 1.

INTRODUCTION

The conservation of marine turtles in the Mediterranean has been under the scrutiny of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) since the mid-1980s, and the Convention has been instrumental in preserving nesting and feeding habitats particularly in some eastern Mediterranean countries, where two endangered species of marine turtles (loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta, and green turtle, Chelonia mydas) are found. Chelonia mydas is listed as globally endangered in IUCN’s latest assessment (2004), and the Mediterranean population is regarded as critically endangered. Only 200–300 nesting females remain. Whilst 99 percent of all recorded nesting in the Mediterranean occurs in Turkey, Cyprus and Syria, 80 percent of all nests are concentrated at only seven key nesting beaches, thus making the population highly vulnerable (Kasparek & al. 2001 and unpubl. information). Turkey has by far the largest share of the Mediterranean population, and nesting is mostly concentrated on four beaches: Akyatan, Kazanli, Yumurtalik and Samandag. To encourage action for the conservation of the green turtle at these Turkish nesting grounds, 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. Since 1992 MEDASSET’s regular surveys, as part of a long-term monitoring programme of the Mediterranean turtle nesting beaches, have exerted pressure on the Turkish Government for enhanced protection and conservation. In 2005 MEDASSET continued these field assessments, by collecting information on the current conservation status in order to update the Convention regarding Turkey’s green turtle nesting beaches. This report examines the recent situation, gives recommendations for conservation and management, and focuses on the Convention’s protective role towards the green turtle nesting beach of Kazanli. The Kazanli nesting beach has been a focal point of the Convention since MEDASSET brought to its attention the release of toxic waste onto the nesting beach and into the sea from the beachside soda-chrome factory in 2001. This beach had been subject to gradual degradation for many years, without significant action by the Turkish authorities to stop the process. Since 2000, the situation has improved under the leadership of a new local administration. Both the Bern Convention and MEDASSET have contributed significantly to these improvements.

2. OVERALL NESTING SITUATION IN 2005 In Kazanli, only 38 Green Turtle nests were recorded in 2005 (Caglayan Elmaz, pers. comm.), which, when compared with previous years, is an extremely low number: between 74 and 216 nests were recorded in the years between 1988 and 2000 (Kasparek & al. 2001), and over 350 nests in 2004. It is widely accepted that the number of green turtle nests on single nesting beaches can vary greatly from year to year. 2004 saw the highest number of green turtle nests in the entire Mediterranean, simultaneously recorded throughout the nesting beaches in Turkey, Cyprus and Syria. Likewise, extremely low nesting took place at all nesting sites in Turkey, Cyprus and Syria in 2005.


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This profound interannual variation is thought to be the result of highly variable remigration intervals driven by variation in the quality of the green turtle’s herbivorous diet (cf. Kasparek & al. 2001). The low numbers at Kazanli in 2005 should therefore not be interpreted as a decline in the nesting population, but as part of long-term annual fluctuation, combined with the fact that marine turtles do not nest annually, but in intervals of 1-3 years.

3. BERN CONVENTION’S INVOLVEMENT IN GREEN TURTLE CONSERVATION IN KAZANLI The 4.5 km Kazanli beach is the second most important green turtle nesting beach in the Mediterranean, and is seriously threatened by several factors. 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 protection 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. This update report is part of the effort to monitor the situation at Kazanli and to report on achievements for implementing the Recommendations of the Standing Committee. The following Recommendations of the Standing Committee deal with the situation at Kazanli: No. 7 (1987) No. 8 (1987) No. 12 (1988) No. 13 (1988) No. 24 (1991) No. 66 (1998) No. 95 (2002)

On the protection of marine turtles and their habitat; On the protection of marine turtles in Dalyan and other important areas in Turkey; Concerning the protection of important turtle nesting beaches in Turkey; Concerning measures for the protection of critical biotopes of endangered amphibians and reptiles; On the protection of some beaches in Turkey of particular importance to marine turtles; On the conservation status of some nesting beaches for marine turtles in Turkey; On the conservation of marine turtles in Kazanli beach (Turkey).

A number of other reports describe the situation at Kazanli in detail. These include: T-PVS (1999) 74 T-PVS (2000) 56 T-PVS (2000) 73 T-PVS (2001) 39 T-PVS (2001) 70 T-PVS/Files (2002) 2 T-PVS/Files (2002) 17 T-PVS/Files (2002) 20 T-PVS/Files (2003) 14 T-PVS/Files (2004) 10 T-PVS/Files (2004) 11 T-PVS/Files (2004) 16

Report by the NGO: MEDASSET. Report by MEDASSET. Report by Turkish Government. Report by the Secretariat of the Bern Convention. Report by the NGO: MEDASSET. Report by the Secretariat of on-the-spot appraisal undertaken for the Council of Europe by M. Kasparek. Report by Turkish Government. Report by the Secretariat of the Bern Convention. Report by the NGO: MEDASSET. Meeting of the Bureau. Meeting Report. Report by the NGO: MEDASSET. Report by the Secretariat.

For detailed background information, reference should be made to these Bern Convention Kazanli documents; most of which are available at: www.coe.int and http://tofino.ex.ac.uk/euroturtle/medas/pub_db/All_tpvs.asp.


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IV.

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CONSERVATION SITUATION IN KAZANLI IN 2005

Despite some previous efforts towards the conservation of marine turtles in Kazanli, the overall situation remains critical.

1. Erosion continues at an appalling speed and represents the major threat to the nesting beach. Beach erosion may undermine other conservation efforts. Beach section K3, which was once the most important nesting area, with over 40 nests/km, has almost completely disappeared and now only a few hundred square metres of sand remain. Beach erosion is so heavy that not only the sandy parts of the beach have eroded, but the soil layer of adjacent agricultural fields is affected too. Whereas the existence of green houses in beach section K3 had imposed a major threat to nesting turtles and their removal was a high conservation priority, these are no longer a major conservation issue. Green houses themselves are now under threat from beach erosion, and a seafront row has already had to be removed. The remaining green houses are now situated on pure soil, and their removal will thus not gain additional sandy nesting ground for turtles. There is no longer suitable nesting space for marine turtles between the green houses and the splash line. In 2004, 15-20 percent of Kazanli’s green turtle nests were destroyed through beach erosion and in 2005 some nests had to be relocated because of this (Caglayan Elmaz, pers. comm.). The small beach section K4, situated in front of the soda-chrome factory no longer exists as a sandy beach; rocks and concrete constructions prevail, all sandy parts have been washed away. This part of Kazanli beach has always been of minor importance to turtle nesting. A jetty belonging to the soda-chrome factory, identified in 2000 as being responsible for causing the erosion on the beach, was demolished by the factory in 2002. However, only those parts of the jetty above the surface of the water had been removed. The foundations of the jetty remain, causing accelerated beach erosion. No efforts were made in 2004 or 2005 to remove these remains. Removal of the remains of the former jetty alone will not solve the problem of erosion. Beach erosion must be seen as a phenomenon observed along all Turkish coasts, and is apparently a consequence of the construction of dams at many of Turkey’s rivers, which reduce the input of sand and soil into the sea. The construction of the factory jetty as well as other coastal management measures may have been the cause of heavy beach erosion at Kazanli. However, the situation seems to have been complicated by sea water currents dominant in different seasons, and as a result of human activity. A comprehensive coastal engineering study should be carried out to better understand the full range of factors influencing beach erosion, and to identify measures necessary to combat it. It may even be considered necessary to construct jetties at certain strategic points in order to counteract beach erosion and to protect the coast.

2. Further accumulation of highly toxic waste at Kazanli The chrome factory on Kazanli has deposited 1.5 million tons of hazardous toxic waste directly onto the beach. The waste has a high concentration of highly toxic chromium (Cr 3+/6+) compounds, and is a by-product of the factory’s activities of the 1990s. Currently applied technologies produce these toxic compounds in much lower concentration and in lower quantities. Following an increase in public interest, the factory has been forced to cover the waste with plastic sheeting to avoid the dispersal of toxic substances through wind and rain. However, this measure can, at best, be regarded as a transitional solution. Both the factory and the Government should be urged to solve this problem immediately. Although this is a long-standing issue, as far as we understand, no professional feasibility study has yet been commissioned to identify options for rendering the hazardous waste harmless and to arrange for its removal. It was noted during 2005 that the quantity of hazardous waste deposited next to the sea has increased. We were informed that the chrome factory had deposited toxic waste in the 1990s at various locations around Kazanli. When this became publicly known the factory was forced to return the toxic waste back to its own premises, thus adding to the already existing mountain. It should be stressed here that the disposal of any hazardous waste next to the sea bears high risk,


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and that the sea shore is not an appropriate place for the depositing of 1.5 million tons of toxic waste! Any additional waste seriously increases the problem.

3.

At present tourism development is not regarded as a real threat to the nesting area

The Turkish Ministry of Tourism declared in 2003/2004 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 2,300 ha., foreseeing tourist installations with a total capacity of 11,000 beds. It includes 11 hotels, two golf courses and one camping facility and it is anticipated that 23% of the total investment area will be covered in buildings. No Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study was carried out prior to declaring it an investment area. This part of the coast is close to the green turtle nesting area and comprises a number of threatened habitats including that 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 in Turkey). The Ministry of Tourism has issued a tender for investment in the Kazanli-Seyhan project. However, the Ministry was unable to attract investors. No offers were received, and subsequently the tourism development in the Kazanli-Seyhan region was postponed indefinitely. V.

IMPLEMENTATION OF BERN CONVENTION RECOMMENDATIONS

Bern Convention Recommendation No. 95 (2002) lists fourteen points requiring special action. The following table examines whether they have been implemented. The table only briefly describes the Recommendations. For a full description see Recommendation No. 95 (2002) in T-PVS/ Files (2002) 2, and information given above. Recommendations

yes

Implemented partly no

1. Remove greenhouses in beach section K3

2. Remove taxi (dolmus) parking area 3. Remove plastic debris

4. Screen lights 5. Monitoring of chemical waste discharge 6. Monitoring of beach erosion

no

yes partly

Regularly monitored, monitor screen established in the centre of Kazanli. No systematic monitoring. No coastal engineering study giving reasons for beach erosion. Comprehensive education programme supported by the Turkish Government (State Planning Organisation) and implemented by a local NGO. Plan adopted in 2004; beach sections K1-K3 allocated as conservation area. Beach section K3 not included in the SIT Conservation Area, but protected by decision of the Municipality Council (stronger legal status required) Some installations removed, some still present.

partly

yes

8. Implement environmental plan («cevre düzeni plani»)

yes

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

According to the Mayor of Kazanli, no funds for compensation payments are available; removal no longer a priority because of heavy beach erosion. New parking place to the rear of the beach within the town. Collected repeatedly, but new plastic debris is continuously washed ashore and added from land-borne sources.

partly yes

7. Promote public awareness

9. Remove illegal building in K1 10. Remove hazardous waste

Remarks

partly no

no no

New amount of hazardous waste added to existing one. Feasibility/Pre-feasibility study for ultimate disposal apparently not yet commissioned. Sewage collecting system still under construction, but no activities for sewage treatment.


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

VI.

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no

partly

People now living in the houses, no light screening. Some attempts at bio-farming undertaken. So far few positive results.

CONCLUSION

The Kazanli green turtle nesting beach has an interesting history: Its significance as the second most important Mediterranean green turtle nesting beach was acknowledged in 1988 (Baran & Kasparek 1989), at the same time a number of serious threats were identified. These threats increased in subsequent years, and although confirmed and reported by numerous researchers and conservationists the responsible authorities failed to take action. As a result the situation gradually deteriorated over the years. The only significant change took place in 2001, after the soda-chrome factory discharged toxic liquid into the sea, resulting in serious damage to marine habitats and wildlife: Following the intervention of MEDASSET, who arranged for analysis of the seawater and organised an international campaign, the Bern Convention conducted an on-the-spot appraisal and a case file was opened. Only then did the responsible authorities undertake serious steps to improve the overall situation significantly. However, as the follow-up assessment conducted in 2005 shows, that present measures are still not sufficient and considerable efforts are still required. The top priorities for maintaining Kazanli’s function as the second most important Mediterranean nesting beach for the critically endangered green turtle are to stop beach erosion and try to rehabilitate the destroyed nesting beaches. The priority for providing a healthy environment for both people and the marine and terrestrial wildlife, is the safe and ultimate disposal of the huge quantity of hazardous toxic waste deposited directly on the beach. VII. BIBLIOGRAPHY Aymak, C., S. E. Gözükara & Y. Kaska (2005): Reproductive ecology of Caretta caretta and Chelonia mydas during 2002 and 2003 nesting seasons in Alata, Mersin, Turkey. – The Second Mediterranean Conference on Sea Turtles, Kemer Antalya 4-7 May, 2005. Book of Abstracts. Baran, I. & M. Kasparek (1989): Marine turtles Turkey. Status survey 1988 and recommendations for conservation and management. - WWF, Heidelberg. Canbolat, A. F., K. Atatunc, O. Candan & D. Barcak (2005): A new green turtle (Chelonia mydas) nesting site in the Mediterranean: Sugözü beaches, Adana (Turkey). – The Second Mediterranean Conference on Sea Turtles, Kemer Antalya 4-7 May, 2005. Book of Abstracts. IUCN (2003): 2003 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. - The IUCN Species Survival Commission. www.redlist.org 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. Rees, A., A. Saad & M. Jony (2005): Marine turtle nesting survey, Syria 2004: Discovery of a “major” green turtle nesting area. – The Second Mediterranean Conference on Sea Turtles, Kemer Antalya 4-7 May, 2005. Book of Abstracts.


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Annexes

Yumurtalik

Lattakia

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

Others 20%

Lattakia 5%

Akyatan 38%

Alagadi 6% North Karpaz 9%

Kazanli 11% Samandag 7%

Yumurtalik (Sugözü) 4%

Green turtle nesting in the Mediterranean: The figure shows the importance of the four Turkish nesting beaches Akyatan, Kazanli, Yumurtalik and Samandag in relation to the other Mediterranean nesting beaches. Altogether, they host 60% of the Mediterranean’s nesting population. Please note that figures for Lattakia and Yumurtalik beaches are approximate.


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Beach erosion has become the most serious threat to Kazanli nesting beach. Note that the entire sandy area has eroded, and no space for turtle nesting remains. This beach section (i.e., section K3) had, until a few years ago, the highest nesting density of green turtles in the Mediterranean.

Beach erosion in Kazanli has not only destroyed green turtle nesting beaches, but now encroaches upon agricultural land and local agriculture.


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The mountain of hazardous toxic waste on Kazanli beach, next to the second most important green turtle nesting area in the Mediterranean. The waste contains highly toxic chromium 3+/6+ substances, and has only recently been covered with plastic sheeting to prevent the dispersal of toxic substances by wind and rain.

New hills of toxic substances, added in 2004/2005. Instead of introducing measures to reduce the amount of waste, the quantity of highly toxic waste being deposited at Kazanli beach is increasing!


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Green Turtle nesting in Kazanli has shell covered in CaCo3 soda waste discharged by Soda Factory in the Sea.

Nesting beach erosion in Kazanli has taken its’ toll on this green turtle nest and eggs.


T-PVS/Files (2005) 10: Report on Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) Conservation Monitoring in Kazanli