Sea turtle hospital plan canceled after ‘hues and cries’ of activists: Minister
The caretta carettas are on the red list of the International Union for Conversation of Nature (IUCN).A hospital project for loggerhead sea turtles (caretta caretta) in the Turkey’s one of a kind İztuzu beach on the Mediterranean coast has been canceled after the protests of activists, Environment and Urban Planning Minister İdris Güllüce said.
Environmentalists voiced strong criticism regarding the project, stressing that although it would allow for the protection of the turtles, the construction would damage one of the main breeding grounds for the endangered species.
Güllüce, who previously accused those who were opposed to the project on environmental grounds of “fanaticism,” said they would step back after “hues and cries.”
“We are not going to do it against the adversity of the locals. We have canceled the project, because it isn’t wanted. We won’t build such hospital,” Güllüce said.
The minister argued that the current facility in İztuzu for the treatment of caretta carettas was not in good condition and the ministry, together with Denizli’s Pamukkale University, planned to turn it into a hospital.
Locals and environmentalists stressed they were not against the idea of such a hospital, but its location. Often referred to as “Turtle beach,” the beach has had a protected status since 1998 and is part of the Köyceğiz-Dalyan Enviromental Protection area.
Güllüce said building it elsewhere would have meant moving away from the turtles’ habitat, at least half an hour’s distance.
The activists also drew attention to the destruction of the forest surrounding the area, as well as the growing number of tourists sailing off the beach, as factors that hamper the breeding of the caretta carettas.
The peculiarly photogenic giant turtles are on the red list of the International Union for Conversation of Nature (IUCN) due to the destruction of their habitat.
Many international environmental and animal rights group, including World Wildlife Fund (WWF), had reacted against the establishment of a hospital in İztuzu.