Experts call for protection of plant-stricken Marmara coast to preserve seals
Around 100 seals are believed to live around Turkey's coasts.Marine life experts have called on the authorities to protect 15 kilometers of Turkey's southeastern Marmara Sea coast around Karabiga, where five new coal plants are in or pending construction, to protect endangered specimens of Mediterranean seals.
“Mediterranean seals spend half of their time on land and the other half in the sea. So when the coasts are filled with concrete, their habitat will be destroyed,” a spokesperson from the Underwater Research Association told daily BirGün. “The seals will then be unable to breed and continue their lives in the region, the same as other protected marine species in the area.”
The association has recently filmed seals leaving the caves near Karabiga, where the endangered animals were spotted for the first time last year after a break of seven years.
“These images have once more proven that Mediterranean seals still inhabit the region. So we want the 15 kilometers of coastal area between Karabiga and the bay of Aksaz, which is the only remaining untouched part of the Marmara Sea, to be protected,” the spokesperson said.
A controversial coal plant, the construction of which was launched by Cengiz Holding, one of the five companies that won the tender for Istanbul’s third airport and is known for its closeness to the government, has drawn criticism after the ministry approved a mandatory environmental assessment report (ÇED) that disregarded potential damage to seals and loggerhead turtles.
Seals abounded in the region more than half a century ago and bred even in the Bosphorus during the 1950s. Around 100 seals are believed to live around the Turkish coasts, and one of their main habitats is another area with high energy stakes: The coastal area near the southern Mediterranean locality of Akkuyu, where Turkey’s first nuclear plant is set to be built.