The İztuzu Beach Rescue Platform [İKUP] has responded to a statement from the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning on the controversy surrounding the privatization and development of İztuzu Beach, saying the ministry’s claim to ownership of the beach is invalid.

The Ortaca Municipality and İKUP then filed cases against the two protocols at the Ortaca 1st Court of First Instance, and ruled to suspend both the protocol between the ministry and MUÇEV and the protocol between MUÇEV and DALÇEV.

On the night of Dec. 29, DALÇEV entered the beach without permission with three construction vehicles. Local environmentalists responded by holding demonstrations for several days after to prevent the private enterprise from re-entering the area.

Many have spoken out against the privatization of the beach due the danger development and construction pose to loggerhead turtles, also known as caretta caretta, for which the beach is a crucially important breeding ground in the region. The loggerhead turtle is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list of endangered animals.

Another subject of protest is a proposed plan to build a sea turtle research and rehabilitation center on 380 square meters of land. Many believe that any construction activity in the area would open up the possibility of further construction, thereby ruining the habitat of resident species, including the turtles.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Turkey spokesperson Özgür Gürbüz stated: “İztuzu is one of the protected regions of Turkey. There are 21 sea turtle nestling areas in the Mediterranean, and İztuzu is the most important in this area, because this is a protected site. This is what our concern is regarding.”

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