Turkey: Sea of Marmara in dire straits

For weeks now, the Sea of Marmara has been covered by layers of algal slime called "sea snot" or "sea saliva". Gigantic white swathes of the slime can be seen in satellite images of the area. Conservationists, fishermen and politicians are alarmed. Turkish media complain about the abuses that are causing the problem and the government's seeming lack of concern.

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Milliyet (TR) /

Negligent poisoning

The entire ecosystem is threatened, Milliyet warns:

“Octopuses, algae, and seagrass beds are trapped under this slimy layer. Plants can no longer perform photosynthesis. The oxygen content of the water is almost depleted and has dropped to zero in some areas. The fish are suffocating. ... The reasons why the Sea of Marmara is struggling with death are as follows: 1. Climate change and rising temperatures. 2. Man-made pollution. Fifty percent of Turkey's industry is located in the Marmara region. ... Most of these companies don't treat their sewage. Dirt and poison have been discharged into the Sea of Marmara for a decade through the shameful practice known as 'deep-sea wastewater discharge'. ... If the state delays action, this 'saliva' will very soon start flowing southwards into the Aegean and the Mediterranean.”

Habertürk (TR) /

Rethink Istanbul Canal project

President Erdoğan wants to go ahead with the plans to start building a canal between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea at the end of June despite the arguments against the project, Habertürk laments:

“Many people who see the 'sea saliva' now fear that the Istanbul Canal could cause a much bigger natural disaster in the future. Apart from the complainants, most of the scientists who signed the environmental impact assessment for the project have avoided defending the canal in public. If despite the atmosphere the government goes ahead with the project without making scientific statements about its impact on nature, even the AKP party base may turn against the Istanbul Canal. ... The Sea of Marmara, which we will bequeath to our children, should not fall victim to political confrontation.”