SAD-AFAG has been working for the protection of endangered Mediterranean monk seal & its habitat along Turkish coasts since 1987

Our Vision: Healthy marine and coastal ecosystems with all living forms including human being, that can sustain itself without in need of further conservation efforts.

Our Mission: To protect monk seals and natural coastal habitats of the species along Turkish coasts and to render sustainability of artisanal fishery as the true companion of monk seals sharing same habitats and niche.

Our Targets:

To protect valuable coastal and marine habitats especially from unplanned and illegal development along the coasts -as the primary reason for the monk seals’ disappearance- as well as from land and ship based pollution.

To protect fish stocks from overfishing and illegal fishing activities, hence contribute enhancement of fish stocks in Turkish marine areas.

To prevent or minimize the Mediterrenaen seal deaths due to deliberate killing by fishermen or entanglement of seals to fishing gears by reducing the tension between seals and fishermen & aquafarm owners, as well as by providing rescue & rehabilitation to sick or ailing seals including orphaned ones.

About AFAG

AFAG is the first and only NGO established in September 1987 in Ankara, Türkiye for the conservation & research of endangered Mediterranean monk seal and its habitats, pristine Mediterranean coasts.

It is a non-profit and non-governmental organization established and registered in accordance with Turkish legislation. The organization has been carrying out projects and conducting activities based on the understanding “Protecting Mediterranean monk seal means protecting the Mediterranean!..“.

Our ultimate aim is to render the protection of marine and coastal ecosystems as a whole.

AFAG has been performing for the continued survival of Mediterranean monk seal, Europe’s most endangered animal, and its habitat, coastal and marine areas  for more than 30 years. In order to reach the goals following activities are realized;

  • Designs and executes research programs to determine abundance, population and distribution of the species as well as its habitat and caves along all Turkish coasts,
  • Performs activities to seek necessary funding and implement short-medium-long term projects in order to render protection of both species and its valuable coastal habitats,
  • Analyse the reasons that cause the decline of Mediterranean monk seal along all Turkish coasts, develop solutions and propose them to the relevant and responsible State bodies and National Mediterranean Seal Committee, related academic institutions and private sector,
  • Designs and produces printed educational materials, scientific and popular articles, and organizes and participates seminars, conferences. Performs presententations for dissemination of information and makes public awareness/education to public in the country & abroad,
  • Makes lobbying and advocacy in the relevant and responsible Ministries & governmental departments in order to let necessary measures to be taken or legislative studies to be done as soon as possible for the protection of species and its habitat,
  • Makes exchange of information and experience with local, national or international institutions directly or indirectly working on the research and protection of Mediteranean seals & its habitats.

AFAG from past till now

AFAG started its studies with a small student group in September 1987 under the umbrella of METU-SAS (Middle East Technical University-Subaqua Society) in Ankara. Although AFAG continued its activities initially by the four co-founders, who were METU students, with some short-term volunteer supports from other METU-SAS members and academical advisors, AFAG achieved to widen this small core group and reached active members by the order of  ten people including experienced divers, biologists and teachers, as a result of the intense capacity development meetings and seminars started in 1991. Some of the new participants to the core group have been the permanent professional or long-term members of AFAG.

Until 1993, AFAG has performed extensive field expeditions & surveys and monk seal sighting data gathering studies in Dilek Peninsula National Park, Olimpos Bey Daglari National Park, Bodrum, Karaada island, Yalikavak, Aydincik & Tasucu in Mersin and Foça regions. We could develop the basis of our coastal network which mainly included the artisanal fishermen in those years. Afterwards, we started our first professional and long-term research & conservation project in Foça, as approved by Turkish Ministry of Environment, in 1993 with the financial support of WWF International: Conservation of the Mediterranean seal in Turkiye; Foça Pilot Project.

Apart from the  Foça Pilot Project which has been completed successfully, AFAG performed many short, medium and long-term research, conservation and PA-EE projects. With the help of METU Subaqua Society which was established in 1985, AFAG began to execute its studies more effectively within SAD since 1994. In May 1998, AFAG showed a great improvement  with the participation of the group from METU-IMS. Since 1987, SAD-AFAG has been carrying out PA-EE projects and activities in order to promote the protection of this rare marine mammal and its habitat along Turkish coasts. The logo of SAD-AFAG is a Mediterranean monk seal head. With the principle of “Protecting Mediterranean Monk Seal is Protecting Mediterranean”, SAD-AFAG manages scientific researches and protection studies; attempts to enact legislation by official organizations for forming protection strategies and their application; makes rational and sustainable plans for the protection of natural habitats; perform environment education and public awareness activities. Currently, mostly active in and around İzmir Bay (Foca, Karaburun, Cesme, Alacati, Sigacik), Gokova Bay (SW Turkiye), in Mersin Bozyazi and Aydincik and Kas/Kekova/Kalkan region (near Antalya) while have been monitoring and performing expeditions in the whole Turkish coastline depending on our human, equipment and financial sources. Relations with the governmental departments and advocacy are among the most important activities of AFAG.

Here are some of the SAD-AFAG’s actual contributions for the protection of monk seals as well as marine & coastal habitats in the country:

  • Pioneering and contribution to establishing NATIONAL MONK SEAL COMMITEE (NMSC) and after establishment being an active co-founder member since January 1991 until now.
  • Contributing to preparing Draft National Mediterranean Monk Seal Strategy and presenting it to NMSC and its acceptance.
  • Turkey’s first long-term monk seal and marine conservation project; “Protection of Mediterranean Monkseal in Turkey; Foça Pilot Project“, which was awarded with the Grand Prix by Henry Ford European Conservation Awards in 1998.
  • Contributing and performing Turkey’s second long-term monk seal and marine protection study in west Mersin coasts.
  • Proposing and establishment of Foça Island and its environs as the fishing regulation zone.
  • Proposing and establishment of Bodrum Peninsula’s northernwestern coasts as the fishing regulation zone.
  • Proposing and advocacy for the establishment of 1st Degree Natural SIT Area on Küdür Peninsula in Yalikavak region in 1999.
  • Proposing and establishment of a marine protection zone  that is fully closed to fishing in  İzmir Mordoğan, Ayıbalığı cave environs.
  • Proposing and regulating the banning of Siren rocks of Orak Island (Foça) to all human activities except artisanal fishery.
  • Proposing and regulating to forbid entering into monk seal caves in whole Turkish coasts in the first NMSC meeting in January 1991.
  • Proposing and establishment of new ships navigation regulation in which it is forbidden to navigate by all ships carrying dangerous cargo and the ships greater than 300 GRT  in the islands of Ayvalık, Foça and Bodrum in 2001.
  • Proposing and establishment of closing some of the important monk seal sites for sports (recreational) diving.
  • Proposing and establishment of modified regulation of trawler fishing in many coastal areas of Turkish Aegean and Mediterranean.
  • Establishing Turkey’s first local marine patrolling system in coordination with Turkish Ministry of Environment, Foça Municipality, Foça District and Foça Aqua Product Cooperative Society in Foça.
  • Supervising of Kızılliman marine  protection zone with fishing regulation zone in Aydıncık, Mersin and establishing a local marine patrolling system to prevent illegal fishing in this area too.
  • Oil Spill Clean-up on Cavus Island near Bodrum; the coasts nearby and the caves of monk seals  from oil pollution with the cooperation of  Ministry of Environment, Friends of Bodrum Society. (Awarded for 2nd National Prize by Henry Ford European Conservation Awards in 1997)
  • In Johannesburg, at the 2nd World Environment Summit, the conservation projects managed by SAD-AFAG were presented as one of the best examples of conservation efforts in Türkiye by the Turkish Ministry of Environment in 2002.

SAD-AFAG Organizational Structure

Ankara Coordination Office

Cem Orkun Kıraç: AFAG coordinator. He undertakes responsibility on designing, executing and coordinating projects as well as is responsible for relation with the relevant governmental department. Participates field research where necesssary.

Yeşim Koyuncu: Project assistant. He is acting to facilitate the management of all projects in AFAG and also responsible for relations with members and media communications. Currently, he is one of the few full-time AFAG staff.

Serpil Kozludere: Communication staff in Ankara Office, assists preparation of “Akdeniz Gezgini” journal, relations with members. Working on voluntary basis.

Foça Project Office

Dr. Harun Güçlüsoy: AFAG scientific studies coordinator. Acts in project design, execution and coordination of field studies. Represents SAD-AFAG in the meetings with relevant governmental departments. Participates field research where necesssary.

Ayhan Tonguç: Responsible for all the transportation and logistics support in the projects as well as mechanical and electrical equipment’s assembly used in the projects and getting ready for use.

Ceyhun Ekinci: He undertakes responsibility on executing field studies in Foça area. He gives professional support in underwater and surface expetidition photography and video documentation.

Karaburun Office

N. Ozan Veryeri:  SAD-AFAG Karaburun representative. Carries out projects or collects information about environmental issues including Mediterranean monk seal & its habitat around the Karaburun Peninsula and vicinity.

İlker Erbaş: Gökova ICMM field studies coordinator. Having wide knowledge on cetaceans and aquatic mammals, she assists field surveys as well as PA-EE activities in Karaburun and Mordoğan area.

Aydıncık Office

Mehmet Sarı: President of Aydıncık Aqua Products Cooperative  and vice president of Mersin Aqua Products Cooperative. Acting as AFAG Aydıncık representative since 2003. He is also responsible for operating AFAG’s patrol boat DK01 in Aydincik and Bozyazi.

Palamutbükü Office

Sezer Çete and Özkan Uzun who are active in sea since their childhood in Palamutbükü district of Datça town have been monitoring monk seals and their habitats in cooperation with Oğuz Yiğiterhan from METU-SAS regularly in the site on behalf of SAD-AFAG since 1991.

Chief Advisor

Yalçın Savaş: An extensively experienced field researcher. Being a co-founder of AFAG, provides opinion & advices and also prepare reports for the protection of Mediterranean seal and its habitat along Turkish coasts and marine areas. Also participates field studies where needed.

Legal Advisor

Cengiz Özel: As an experienced lawyer, he performs legal consultancy on mainly administrative issues on SAD and AFAG.

Marine Environment Legal Advisor

M. Kemal Battal: An experienced lawyer on marine environment protection, fishery and navigational safety issues. He provides his assistance in terms of legal issues and drafting national legislation and comparison of national legislation with the relevant EU acquis.

City Planning and Coastal Development Advisor

Deniz Selkan Polatkan: Being an old member of SAD-AFAG, D.S. Polatkan with BSc. on City Planning and MSc. on Environmental Policies, is a true conservationist. He supports AFAG whenever consultancy is required in the field of illegal and/or unplanned coastal development occurs.

Datça Representative

Sezer Çete: Based in Palamutbükü (Muğla), supporting our activities in the area since 1993.


Gökova Representative

İrfan Yıldırım: Based in Karaca in Gökova Bay, (Muğla), supporting our activities in the area since 2005.

Kaş Representative

Dr. Murat Draman: Based in Kaş (Antalya), supporting our activities in the area since 2002.


Kalkan Representative

Fatih Tunalı: Based in Kalkan (Antalya), supporting our activities in the area since 1993.

Kemer Representative

Turgay Işıklar: Based in Kemer (Antalya), supporting our activities in the region since 2002.


Kuşadası Representative

Selçuk Arı: Based in Kuşadası, he is an experienced diver and nature conservationist.


Adana Representative

Vedat Kolcuoğlu: Based in Adana, supporting our activities around Taşucu and Boğsak (Mersin) since 1998.

İstanbul Representative

Levent Yüksel: Based in İstanbul, supporting the activities in İstanbul as well as Kaş and vicinity since 1992.