Monk seal project: overview

Patrolling for illegal fishing activities, Aydincik, Turkey. rel=
Patrolling for illegal fishing activities, Aydincik, Turkey.
© WWF / Emma Duncan

Turkey's fishermen: guardians of the monk seals

In Turkey, Mediterranean monk seals are suffering from loss of habitat and lack of food. To counter this, WWF and Turkish NGO SAD-AFAG (The Underwater Research Society - Mediterranean Seal Research Group) are working closely with local fishermen to both protect monk seal breeding caves and to increase fish stocks by creating no-fishing zones and patrolling against illegal fishing activities. This not only helps the seals - the fishermen are also benefiting.
The project has six main areas:

  • Helping local fishermen to form cooperatives.
  • Establishing no-fishing zones around monk seal breeding caves.
  • Fighting illegal fishing activities.
  • Monitoring monk seals.
  • Monitoring the recovery of fish stocks.
  • Increasing public awareness of monk seal conservation.

The work is currently being carried out in two sites along the Turkish Mediterranean coast: the outer Gulf of Izmir in the Aegean Sea (Foça and Karaburun) and the Cilician Basin in the Mediterranean Sea (Aydincik, Melleç, and Kizilliman).

The project has been extremely successful - the fishermen not only now have more stable incomes through fisheries cooperatives, but fish stocks are improving and illegal fishing is declining. Monk seal breeding caves have been protected, and the fishermen have become their guardians, patrolling against activities that may harm the animals.

WWF also works on monk seal conservation in Greece and Mauritania.

More information


  • WWF Mediterranean,

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