09 April 2019, Akyaka, Turkey - The Gökova region has been selected by Turkey as a pilot site for the Blue Hope project it is carrying out alongside FAO. The project identifies areas experiencing situations in which locals face pressures to migrate, often abroad, for work opportunities. This tends to disproportionately affect young people. Blue Hope project activities began in three pilot countries: Algeria, Tunisia and Turkey. Government partners in each country selected regions and activities aimed at strengthening these target fisheries communities and expanding livelihoods and job opportunities, especially aimed at young people who were most likely to migrate to urban areas or abroad for employment opportunities. One of the activities identified in Turkey's Gulf of Gökova coastal community of Akyaka, in addition to fisheries and aquaculture management activities, is assistance in establishing ecotourism or pescatourism policies that will allow the town to develop its tourism activities sustainably. Rather than attracting package tourism, the town hopes to appeal to tourists seeking genuine, local experiences, including fishing traditions, exploring the region by boat or hikes, and enjoying local, culinary traditions. Akyaka has long been a fishing town, but fisheries opportunities alone are unable to support the younger generations as they could in the past.
For this reason, fisherfolk associations are working to drive this process of developing ecotourism and pescatourism opportunities that will welcome tourists to take part in local traditions and customs, including an understanding of the key role fisheries plays to this coastal community.
Fisherfolk associations, local administrations and government officials are working alongside FAO to develop policies that would promote these efforts, including legislative, safety and sanitary changes that would allow for safer vessels, and shorter fisheries value chains that would favor local, seasonal ingredients aimed at promoting local culinary traditions. All activities would support the FAO Blue Growth Initiative - an approach that seeks to balance the sustainable management of aquatic resources with economic and social benefits for local communities.