The Blue Wave Project takes place in the Fethiye-Gocek Special Environmental Protection Area located in southwest Turkish Mediterranean coast. A working group consisting of cross sector representation from all the stakeholders (marinas, bays, private boat operators, NGOs, local authorities) Chamber of Shipping, TURMEPA – environmental NGO, D-Marin- a private marina group and the Travel Foundation are responsible for delivering the project and co-ordinating activities. The project aims to improve the level of sustainable practices carried out within the sector and amongst tourists, creating a cleaner and more appealing tourism product.
Around the coast there are around 40 bays or islands that visitors can enjoy. One of the main reasons why tourists visit is to enjoy the beautiful marine environment, with most tourists taking a least one boat trip during their stay. However, the increasing popularity of marine recreation threatens to destroy the very thing that supports the economy of the region – the environment.
Last week I went on a four day solo stand-up paddling (SUP) board tour around Fethiye-Gocek bays and Islands. This was the first time that a person was making a multi-day SUP excursion around that coast, and the idea was to spread the word about the Blue Wave Project to tourist boats and establishments on bays and islands. I paddled about 30 miles; talking to tourists, boat operators and restaurant owners on the way, while demonstrating one of the lowest impact ways of sea travel.
People were mostly interested in how I was able to carry all I would need including the food that would last four days on a paddleboard. This is one of the ways to demonstrate how minimalist you should think while sailing or traveling with a motor boat. You are there with hundreds of other species sharing the same environment, and being solo and interacting with all that marine and land wildlife made me feel like a real outsider.
Written by Semsi Toprak, Programme coordinator, Fethiye
Read more about Blue Wave.