ODYSSEA Turkey holds stakeholder workshop on Gökova Observatory

Stakeholders coming from a wide range of sectors present on the Turkish coast participated in the ODYSSEA workshop, held April 29-30, 2019, in Akyaka (Gökova), Muğla province.

Istanbul University hosted and sponsored the event, which aimed to present the Gökova Observatory and its services to representatives from business and industry, local authorities and other public institutions, science and academic research sectors, policy-level users, civil society / NGOs and the press.

About 50 participants attended the meeting, which was organised as three sessions and a panel discussion. Dr. Yelda Aktan Turan presented the EU-funded ODYSSEA project’s goals and vision to make Mediterranean marine data easily accessible and operational for multiple end-users.

Sessions included presentations by national authorities, universities, and civil societies. The sessions began with a video presentation prepared by the General Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) on the current status of fisheries management in Turkey, describing issues and problems, such as poaching.

The General Directorate for Protection of Natural Assets (Ministry of Environment and Urbanization) presented general information on the framework of special environmental protected areas (SEPA) in Turkey, including a summary of characteristic features of the Gökova Special Environmental Protected Area.

Representatives of the General Directorate of Nature Conservation & National Parks presented the project addressing Invasive Alien Species Threats in Key Marine Biodiversity Areas, and evaluated the possibility of cooperating with ODYSSEA. Fisheries Faculty, the University of Muğla Sıtkı Koçman, presented fishing activities and variation in catch composition in Gökova Bay.

The Mediterranean Conservation Society, a non-governmental organization, gave a presentation on conservation studies in Gökova Bay, including research on invasive species and habitat degradation. 

Marine Science Institute, Middle East Technical University (METU), introduced  Marine Ecosystem and Climate Research Center established under the DEKOSIM project and gave a talk on their own continuous observation program providing information based on oceanographic time series data collection activities, and the METU’s Buoy System in the Black Sea and two points in the Mediterranean Sea, and emphasised the importance of blue growth

Faculty of Aquatic Sciences, Istanbul University, discussed the potential use of invasive fish species in the food and pharmaceutical industries, and in the context of food security.

In the third session, the ODYSSEA Project was presented by ODYSSEA Turkey’s project team (Y. Aktan Turan, Ç. Keskin, C.H. Yardımcı, S. Karataş Steinum), who shared the innovative aspects of the project with the participants. During the presentations, the services of the ODYSSEA platform were explained, as well as mutual interests and shared problems and needs, were discussed with participants interactively.

The ecological and economic problems of Gökova Bay, its opportunities and the new sectors that could be developed in the region were discussed in detail during the workshop. It was emphasized that the region’s wealth of natural and biological resources are the regional economy’s most important and indispensable assets.

During the meeting and panel discussions, marine environmental issues highlighted as needing monitoring included general pollution (sea water quality), invasive species, biodiversity (endangered species), habitat degradation (of the seagrass bed), and marine litter.