Gökova Bay Marine Ranger Project

“The Gökova Bay is home to a number of protected species, including the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus) and the Sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus). In the Bay of Gökova, where more than 200 coastal fishermen, including female fishermen, are living, six fields have been declared closed to the fishery in 2010 in order to recover the reduced fish stocks and to protect sensitive spawning areas. The Marine Ranger Service System was developed with the idea that the protection activities in the areas should be increased and the responsible institutions should be supported in this respect. The Rangers, quick boots, cameras and other technological equipment with that have been systematically trained by the project team have started to work in 2013.
The marine rangers report the legal evidence and official records they have made about illegal activities (hunting, improper boat tacking, drainage to the sea, etc.) in the area through the communication network established by local authorities (Coast Ranger, Gendarmerie, and related ministries branches). They also distribute informative leaflets to raise awareness among the people of the region and other users who visit the area and warn those who are involved in illegal activities. The system started to be applied in the closed area of Degirmenbükü (English Harbor) Fishery at the beginning of 2013 (BKA). Later, Akyaka, Çamlı, Bördübet, and Boncuk-Karaca were also involved in the BKA. The success of the Marine Ranger Service’s conservation of the sites soon showed itself up, and significant increases in fish began to be observed in the area. Akyaka Aquaculture Cooperative declared that by the end of 2016, its incomes increased by 400% compared to 2010 when the areas were declared. In the light of these results, the effective protection of marine ranger shows both the protection of biodiversity and the importance of sustainable fisheries. By 2016, patrol missions can be tracked simultaneously via the global data system (GPS) with special software installed on the phones of SMART named rangers, and the events and transactions during the mission are recorded immediately and very detailed reporting can be made afterward. Turkey, this software in the world has been one of the countries applying for the first time marine ranger system.
The project, which has significant output and conservation success, is the Whitley Fund for Nature Award, known as the “Green Oscar” in 2013, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Equator Initiative Award in 2014, The Whitley Gold Award has been successful in bringing it to our country. The current goal of the project is to protect the nature and promote rural development by using this successful application example in other areas as well.