Smallest island in Marmara Sea registered as protected area
Tavşan Island, one of the nine islands off the coast of Istanbul, has been registered as a “vulnerable area to be protected,” according to a presidential decree, which was published in the Official Gazette on April 10 with the signature of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Following the decision, an exploration dive was made with the participation of the officials of the Environment and Urbanization Ministry and members of the Marine Life Conservation Association, which has been carrying out various activities to protect the ecosystem of the island for five years.
Meaning “Rabbit Island” in Turkish, Tavşan Island is the smallest of the Princes’ Islands in the Marmara Sea, to the southeast of Istanbul.
During the exploration diving, images were taken from under the sea, and research and observations were made about the flora on the island.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Ümit Turan, a senior official, pointed out that the ministry is working on increasing the number of protected areas in the country.
Noting that the “protected area” target is 17 percent in developed countries, Turan stated that the rate of protected areas in the country is currently 10.6 percent and the target for 2023, the centennial anniversary of the Turkish Republic, is to increase this rate to 17 percent.
“Covering an area of 7.6 million square meters, the island has a high number of endemic species. Since the ‘vulnerable area to be strictly protected’ is an area where human activities are restricted, construction will definitely not happen. Tavşan Island will become a science center,” Turan said, underlining that with this decision, it was declared a marine protected area for the first time in Istanbul.
Stressing that the Marmara Sea is very rich in biodiversity and includes fish migration routes, Turan said that a protection zone study for the Prince Islands, an archipelago off the coast of Istanbul, is also in question.
Volkan Narcı, chairman of the Association for the Protection of Marine Life, stated that Rabbit Island’s biodiversity and underwater and surface richness is quite high.
Emphasizing that the corals on the island are only found in the Mediterranean Sea, Narcı mentioned the scientific studies they carried out in the region as an association.
Narcı noted that they made coral transplantation to Tavşan Island, carried out ghost nets and sea bottom cleaning works throughout the Prince Islands, and created written and visual resources to contribute to future researches.
Among the activities carried out by the association is monitoring the invasive or alien species in the region.