Gökova Bay is one of the most remarkable marine and coastal areas in the Aegean Sea which was designated in 1988 as one of 15 Special Environmental Protected Areas (SEPA) in Turkey, according it critical protection status that requires management plans and coordination among many stakeholders. The bay is home to numerous protected species such as the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seals and sandbar sharks. The ongoing depletion of fish stocks has had a significant impact on the local economy and on the 200 small-scale fishers who depend on the bay for their livelihoods. In particular, over the last 10 years the white grouper – Ephinephalus aeneus – had a sharp decline from 50 kg/year to almost 0 kg/year affecting local fishermen for which this specie represented 70% of their income as it has the highest economic value in the market.
In order to restore the marine ecosystem, promote sustainable development and improve the livelihoods of local fishers, the Underwater Research Society (SAD), with the support of the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) implemented by UNDP, started a project aimed at creating a network of “No Fishing Zones” (NFZ). To achieve this goal, SGP and SAD conducted several awareness raising campaigns, meetings and consultations with the government, local fishers, and other key stakeholders who – at first – were not keen on changing the status of the marine ecosystem.
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