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Cablegate: Turkey: Environmental Highlights, May-June 2003

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 004170

SIPDIS


STATE FOR EUR/SE, EUR/PGI, OES/PCI, OES/EGC, OES/ETC, OES/OA
PLEASE PASS USDA/FOREST SERVICE, EPA/OIA
ALSO FOR USAID/EE/EEST (CMITCHELL)


E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV TBIO KPAO TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: ENVIRONMENTAL HIGHLIGHTS, MAY-JUNE 2003

REF: ANKARA 2287


(U) This is one of a series of cables providing updates on
environmental issues in Turkey. Below are topics covered in
this cable:


1. Illegal fishing plagues Black and Azov seas
2. International team of scientists explore the Black Sea
aboard the Research Vessel Knorr
3. "Blue Flags" for Turkey's safe and clean beaches
4. No change in winter air quality for big cities
5. Ambassador salutes environmental education
6. Soil erosion at troubling levels
7. Many issues stalled in parliament's environment
commission
8. Emerging Ministry of Environment and Forestry
9. Uncertainty for TUBITAK


--------------------------------------------- ----


1. ILLEGAL, UNREPORTED FISHING CONTINUES IN BLACK SEA. The
disparity between data on marine living resources is so
great from one littoral country to the next that it is
nearly impossible to create a useable regional databank,
according to the findings of a workshop on Responsible
Fisheries in the Black and Azov Seas sponsored by UNDP-GEF
and the Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV) in
Istanbul. The six-country workshop concluded that fishing
continues to be a significant economic resource for the
Black Sea littorals and that illegal, unreported fishing
remains one of the most significant unresolved issues among
them.


2. ON BOARD THE RESEARCH VESSEL KNORR: SEARCHING FOR
MANGANESE-III. About 90 scientists from 12 countries
explored Black Sea waters and sediments aboard the Research
Vessel Knorr, the vehicle that discovered the "Titanic."
Among their scientific objectives was the study of the thin
layer that separates the sea's oxygenated waters from the
anoxic waters below. Some scientists aboard believe that
manganese-III, an element not yet found in nature, exists at
that thin layer. They believe that when found below the
suboxic zone, manganese III may be key to keeping poisonous
sulfides at the sea's bottom; when found above, they believe
it absorbs certain pollutants. Owned by the Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institute of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the R.V.
Knorr will return to the Black Sea in July/August with Prof.
David Ballard to search for ancient sunken structures off
the coast of Sinop.


3. BLUE FLAGS FOR SAFE AND CLEAN BEACHES. This year, 140
beaches and 11 marinas in Turkey have received a "Blue Flag"
-- the eco-label for clean, safe and well-managed beaches
and marinas -- from the international jury of the
International Foundation for Environmental Education. This
year's tally topped last year's 127 Blue Flag beaches and 12
marinas. Turkey ranked seventh out of 24 countries in terms
of the number of Blue Flags awarded. Beaches and marinas in
Antalya, Aydin, Balikesir, Canakkale, Istanbul, Isparta,
Izmir, and Mugla won Blue Flags.


4. NO CHANGE IN WINTER AIR QUALITY FOR TURKEY'S BIG CITIES.
Recently released data from the State Institute of
Statistics suggest that there has been no significant change
(improvement or worsening) in air quality of the
metropolitan cities of Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and Adana for
winter 2002-03.


5. AMBASSADOR SALUTES ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION. On World
Environment Day (6/5), Ambassador Pearson visited one of two
schools in Turkey whose students developed projects on
sustainable development that placed in the top ten in the
international environmental learning competition, "My
Community, Our Earth." Ambassador Pearson presented the
school and students with certificates, and planted a tree --
a Liquidamber orientalis, a rare species found mostly in
Southwestern Turkey and California -- dedicated to
environmental education. On 6/6 Istanbul Consul General
David Arnett visited the other winning school, located in
Istanbul, for a certificate ceremony.


6. SOIL EROSION AT TROUBLING LEVELS. The greatest damage
to vacant land in Turkey occurs on property owned by the
Undersecretary of Treasury, according to the Ministry of
Environment and Forestry (MOEF). At a conference organized
by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on land and
water resource management, a forestry official said that
those lands are largely unmonitored and that the bulk of the
loss comes from soil erosion that reduces agricultural
productivity, increases silt build up in reservoirs and
lakes, and produces water loss.


7. PARLIAMENT PUSHES SOME ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES FORWARD,
MANY REMAIN STALLED. The Foreign Affairs Commission of the
Grand Assembly accepted Turkey's participation in the
Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Environment
Commission passed a draft law that facilitates oil and
mineral exploration, but many new laws and proposed
amendments remain stalled in committee. Among those
awaiting a decision are a controversial amendment proposing
the sale of coastal areas and a law on privatizing national
parks. A proposed amendment addressing public participation
in environmental issues and a change in authority for
declaring tourist areas are the two pending measures of most
concern to the environmental community. Others awaiting a
vote address international agreements on hazardous waste,
biosafety, ozone, and transboundary, Black Sea and
Mediterranean pollution.


8. NEWLY MERGED ENVIRONMENT AND FOREST MINISTRY STILL
EVOLVING. Two months into the newly merged Environment and
Forestry Ministry (MOEF), there remains a high degree of
uncertainty regarding organizational structure, staffing at
the appointee and employee levels, and the role of public
participation in decision-making. Of the three projected
deputy undersecretary positions, only one is filled; most
department head positions are yet unassigned; and many new
employees report to work with political affiliations unknown
to their supervisors. NGOs fear they will lose what little
voice they have do have in environmental decision-making due
to longstanding differences between the former ministries of
Environment and Forestry. Some officials project that it
will take more than a year for the new Ministry to settle
in.


Newly appointed U/S Prof. Dr. Hasan Zuhuri Sarikaya, former
Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration (ISKI) Board
Member, said that three new environmental departments have
been established -- Seas and Coast Management, Treatment
Technologies and National Parks, Wetlands and Protected
Areas.


9. UNCERTAINITY FOR TUBITAK. The Scientific and Technical
Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) may also be affected by
governmental restructuring. Although the Scientific Council
has re-elected TUBITAK Prof. Dr. Namik Kemal Pak for another
term as president, the Prime Minister has not yet signed the
decree. Dr. Pak attributes the delay to the new
government's disinterest in autonomous or semi-autonomous
organizations, such as TUBITAK. Dr. Pak is concerned that
the 40-year-old internationally respected TUBITAK will lose
momentum, stature and ability to maintain high quality work
if it loses its autonomous status and falls under the
Ministry of National Education, one option being discussed.
Similarly, Olcay Enver, president of the semi-autonomous GAP
Administration (Southeastern Anatolia Development
Administration), has been asked to resign, according to
newspaper reports.


PEARSON

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