Turkey’s only underwater national park faces development threat

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A pristine corner of Gökçeada, a Turkish island in the Aegean Sea, may soon lose its picturesque status. On Thursday, the local municipality approved a limited development plan for Yıldız Cove, which is home to Turkey’s first and only underwater national park. The mayor defended the decision as something confined to “the idea of ​​providing a clean place for people to live without disturbing the ecosystem.” But critics say development should not be allowed in the cove at all, which is a favorite natural wonder for swimmers looking for a quiet spot in this less inhabited part of the island.

The municipal assembly approved the development plan despite the objection of members of the Republican People’s Party (CHP). Ünal Çetin, mayor of the island, which is a district in the western province of Çanakkale, told Demirören News Agency (DHA) that they wanted to comply with previous regulations presented by the Ministry of Environment and of Urbanism while supporting tourism. from the island. The island, the largest in Turkey, has just over 10,000 inhabitants and its economy is based on tourism and agriculture.

The mayor said the procedure complied with laws regulating housing development in coastal areas and would only allow a minimum rate of housing development. “I am not in favor of opening up such beautiful places for development, but I do what the laws allow. Our goal is to provide a location with all the services available to tourists visiting the cove, ”he says.

Critics of the ruling who have launched an online petition against it say Yıldız Cove is a temporary and permanent home for a wide range of species. It is fertile ground for Mediterranean seals and sperm whales

Approval is always subject to the approval of a local council overseeing the preservation of cultural and natural properties. Ahmet Aydın, a member of the CHP assembly, said they would take the decision to court. “It’s a place with rich underwater flora and an archaeological site too. It is wrong to allow development here. They proposed a low rate of development but it shouldn’t be at all. We hope the board won’t approve it, ”he said.


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