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For the 28th year in succession, MEDASSET participated in the 36th Standing Committee Meeting of the Bern Convention at the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, France, 15-18 November 2016). They presented the results of their sea turtle nesting beach surveys, raised their concerns and submitted recommendations. As a result, the Convention adopted important decisions to monitor several sea turtle habitats and urge countries to step up protection.
Fethiye & Patara (C. caretta) The campaigns to improve the protection of loggerhead turtles nesting beaches in Patara (launched in 1988) and to halt severe degradation in Fethiye (launched
in 2009), both listed as protected areas under the Barcelona Convention, continued in 2016. Medasset assessed the sites in July and found that, sadly, the majority of the actions recommended by the Bern Convention in December 2015 has not so far been implemented by the Turkish authorities.
In Fethiye, there was no improvement in the protection and management of the site, except from a few new signs and some litter collection efforts. Once more, Medasset documented severe light pollution, beach furniture and fixed structures inside the nesting zone, lack of sunbed collection at night and uncontrolled vehicle access on 6.5 of the 8 km nesting beaches. In addition, damage to and reduction of the available nesting habitat continues due to poorly managed coastal development.
In Patara, Medasset recorded several conservation problems, such as a complete lack of guarding, nearshore fishing, uncontrolled vehicle access, sunbeds obstructing nesting at night, lack of zoning and information signs along the largest part of the 12 km beach. Behind the beach and within Patara’s unique archaeological area, the holiday home construction project continueas: in addition to the 27 houses inhabited in 2015, Medasset recorded a total of 255 buildings at different stages of construction.
Through their campaign they are urging authorities to adequately protect the habitat before human disturbances increase many fold due to the expected higher number of residents and visitors.
The Bern Convention decided to continue monitoring progress by keeping the “case-file” open and urged Turkey to step up efforts and ensure recommended measures are fully implemented in 2017.