Gökova Bay’s first degree protected area reduced with cabinet degree
Gizem Karakış – MUĞLA
The area around the Gökova Bay under first degree protection status has been reduced through a recently issued cabinet decree, jeopardizing one of the most beautiful marine landscapes in the Aegean Sea.
In line with the cabinet decree issued on March 16 in the Official Gazette, the areas of the bay designated as first degree protected sites (SİT) have been reduced from 34,162 hectares to 12,544 hectares, 2,447 hectares of which cover the sea.
The Gökova Bay in the southwestern province of Muğla is among the most beautiful and unspoiled areas in Turkey, featuring a number of special coves over the course of 100 km such as Akayaka, Turunç, Akbük, and Bördübet. To the north it stretches up to the Bodrum Peninsula and to the south stretches to the Datça Peninsula.
Prior to the cabinet decree, the bay did not have any areas designated as second degree protected areas, but the new decree announced 23,530 hectares of the area as such, including 3,449 hectares covering the sea. This decision makes it possible for tents, bungalows, and recreational facilities to be built in this pristine land.
As for the areas designated as third degree protected areas, the cabinet decree reduced this area by 1,994 hectares. Construction can be undertaken on the third degree protected areas through special permission received from the Conversation Board.
Following the decree, Muğla Mayor Osman Gürün told daily Hürriyet that the cabinet had taken a decision against the wishes of the local administration.
“Instead of opening these places to construction, we favor the taking of decisions locally. For example, for construction-related procedures the relevant municipality must give the final decision,” Gürün said.
He added that they “do not find it right” for the government to “suddenly narrow down such a huge area” under first degree protection status, stressing that such decisions should be made in municipal councils.
As the cabinet decree is against the government’s earlier ruling regarding the status of the Gökova Bay, the Muğla Municipality filed a lawsuit on Sept. 15, 2017 for the cancellation of the relevant decree, Gürün also said, vowing to keep “following the issue.”