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16.10.2008

Port plans stir resort town

Environmentalists in Marmaris oppose a plan to enlarge the Marmaris Port, arguing that the increased number of ships visiting the tourism resort will cause pollution. An official says the expansion is inevitable and environmentalists’ concerns are groundless


Still pending approval from the Culture and Tourism Ministry committee, plans to extend the Marmaris Port 300 meters towards the sea this November have already caused a public stir, reported the Doğan news agency.

The Marmaris Environment Advocates Association, or MEAA's, chairwoman, Filiz Ersan, asserting the port's expansion would destroy Marmaris said, "If the port is expanded, Marmaris will become another Haliç (The Golden Horn)."

On the other hand, chief executive officer of Marmaris Customs Office Doğan Tugay said environmentalists are worried about nothing as many experts have already studied the case.

The MEAA, taking the initiative for the rescue of the environment and tourism in Marmaris, declared two weeks ago they would take counter-actions against the proposed expansion. The MEAA has already appealed to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the cancelation of 41 permission certificates allowing mine searches in the district and has examined claims that the company, "Ant Marin," illegally filled-in the around Cennet Island and built buildings without licenses. Environmentalists have also applied to the offices of the governor and mayor for a ban on jeep safaris in the area.

Ersan accused the Port Authority of pursuing personal interests and jeopardizing the future of Marmaris. A 6,500 square meter platform will be added to the port as a result of expansion works.

Expansion destabilizes Marmaris

"Expansion of a port in service is not allowed anywhere in the world. Marmaris as a tourism resort is one of a kind. Marmaris looks like a small lagoon, with a bay unable to self-clean. If the port is expanded, the number of ships will increase here and they will cause pollution. Residents of the Yacht Port, which is located next to the port, will see the cold faces of metal ships instead of the natural beauties of Marmaris.  Emissions from ships will harm forests, animal species and sea life. The bay area cannot take any more ships. Sea pollution will occur; underwater flora and the ecological balance will be spoiled. This heaven on earth will resemble Haliç in Istanbul.  The expansion also means cutting income sources such as yacht tourism and the blue voyage. For all these reasons, we are against it. We want authorities not to allow Marmaris to be transformed into Haliç."

The port fails to meet demands

Tugay, on the other hand, rejected the damage the environmentalists predicted. He said the authorities had been trying to obtain the necessary permission for five years and many scientists had conducted research in the area.

"Right now, we have the permissions and are waiting for the final decision of the Culture and Tourism Ministry. There are two docks at the port currently, one of which is 295 meters in length and the other is 150 meters. Like this we cannot host two big ships at the same time. So sometimes we cannot meet the demands. If the port is expanded, we will host three big ships at the most. I understand environmentalists' sensitivity but there is nothing to worry about. If the port is expanded, none of the scenarios they have claimed will take place here. We were granted permission after long years of examinations and diligent studies. They shouldn't worry. We won't do anything to harm Marmaris."

Tugay added that the Port Authority may cancel the expansion project due to the global economic crisis. "We estimate the project will cost about $10 million. However, we are having second thoughts on whether or not to make such a big investment in this financial environment. We will re-evaluate the situation at a board meeting."