Communal initiative to clean seriously littered Dalyan waterways
The Köyceğiz-Dalyan protected area is one of stunning natural beauty. Because of its biodiversity and its archaeological and geological importance it was proclaimed Turkey’s very first Special Protection Area (SPA) and thus brought prosperity to the region. Tourism has been flourishing over the past decade and even more so after Dalyan and its pristine İztuzu Beach were chosen Best Open Space in Europe (The Times) and Best Beach in Europe (Zoover/Meteovista). Being located at the heart of an SPA and with tourism as the main source of income, you would expect that sustainability would rank high on Dalyan’s priority list. Unfortunately, it does not; Dalyan’s beautiful waterways are seriously littered with all sorts of synthetic waste, like plastic bags and bottles, fishing lines and netting and polystyrene boxes and insulation panels. The greater part of the rubbish is petroleum-based, which is not biodegradable but which will eventually fall apart and could, for example, end up in a turtle’s stomach.
The Dalyan Municipality did run a boat cleaning service during the past tourist season, but apparently the municipal workers only clean up the waste that is in immediate sight. That is only a small portion of the synthetic waste, because most of it collects behind the reeds and is washed onto the wetlands when the water level is high after heavy rainfall. In November 2012, a small group of environmentally concerned volunteers discussed the problem with local boat owner Özay Akdoğan, who offered the free use of his boats and captains to go river cleaning once a week. What started as a test ride with five volunteers and one captain on Nov. 15, 2012, has grown into a weekly event with Turkish and foreign Dalyan residents. The size of the group varies from five to 10 volunteers per week. Depending on the number of volunteers, one or two boats are provided. On average, the Dalyan River Bums — in Turkish mildly rephrased as Dalyan Çayı Temizleme Ekibi — collect 18 bags a week aside from the waste that cannot be packed in bags because of its size or shape. And of course there are always empty crates lying about for storing empty beer and rakı bottles. The top score for rakı bottles collected was 20 in a 10-meter ditch nicely hidden in the Çandır wetlands.
Unfortunately, it is not only litter the group has come across; on one of their recent missions they found three dead cormorants. Two had been shot and never picked up; one had become hooked on a fishing line left out for whichever fish would bite overnight and died.
Apart from collecting the waste, the group has started to address the managers of local businesses that seem to be responsible for the rubbish collected. On certain stretches, the source of rubbish is clear: building waste from a hotel that is expanding and polystyrene boxes from a nearby food processing facility. The idea is to make people aware and urge them to dispose of their waste responsibly. By sharing photographs, footage and informative mini-posters via social media, the group hopes to educate the local community and invite people to take part in this communal activity.
The group is very grateful for the support from Kardak Tours in providing boats, captains and diesel for free. It is a very generous contribution to a Green & Clean Köyceğiz-Dalyan SPA.
Resource: Today’s Zaman