Villagers from Yaniklar and Kargi made a peaceful protest on Saturday to highlight the impact that the new boat yard at the Karaot Beach, Yaniklar will have on the environment and wildlife.

Plans for the relocation of the Fethiye boat yard that began some 14 years ago in 1999 were given the green light by the Mugla Deputy of the AK Party late last year December 2013.

The yard will now move from the Karagozler area of Fethiye some 10km up the coast to the Karaot Beach, Yaniklar.

Politicians claim the relocation of the new boat yard will provide area for expansion and protection of the estimated $7 million generated by the yard for the local economy.

However, the move is controversial.

Karaot (translates as ‘Black Grass’) Beach in Yanıklar is possibly the longest, and most accessible, stretch of undeveloped beach from Patara up to Izmir.

The villagers of Yanıklar held a protest against the proposed new boat yard and dry dock planned for the village beach back in October 2010 when 100 held a protest on the beach on ‘Coastline Day’ to draw attention to their opposition to the proposed plans.

They said that Loggerhead turtles nest there; it is backed by a wetlands area around Akgöl (see picture below), the lake which is a staging point for migratory birds, and the boatyard and dry dock would ruin all that natural beauty.

But that protest fell on deaf ears when the project was approved late last year.

The recent publication of an Environmental Impact Assessment has now sparked a renewed effort by locals to resist the development.

Last Saturday villagers from Yaniklar and nearby Kargi joined forces to hold another peaceful protest to save the beach.

They held placards stating “Karaot’u Yedirtmeyiz” – Do not take Karaot and save the turtle nesting areas.

The village headmen from both villages made speeches.

Fethiye Ecotourism Development Association Board Member Ahmet Kizin who is also a resident of the village joined the event to add his weight to the protest.

He said that 28 turtle nests had been found on the beach, that the Akgol Lake was an important stopping off point for migratory birds and many endemic plants would be threatened by the development.

He said that the boat yard could see boats of up to 100 metres in length come to the new facility and that would have a significant impact not only the coastal beauty but also the socio-economic balance of the villages.

But the sad possibility is, despite the protests, that the beauty of Yanıklar beach is likely to be lost forever and the boat yard will be its new feature. The decision has been made and it’s now a matter of when not if.

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