Istanbul / Munich, 15 July 2021

Press Information

Fight against impending eco-catastrophe in Turkey

IFAT Eurasia: using environmental technology to combat marine mucilage in the Sea of Marmara


  • Algae slime blankets on a historic scale
  • State action plan to counteract
  • One of the key starting points: enhanced wastewater treatment


For years, large slime blankets have been forming in Turkey’s Marmara Sea from spring onwards. But never this environmental phenomenon has affected the inland sea between the Bosporus and the Dardanelles as much as in 2021. A gray layer of the "sea snot" spreads along the coast—especially near the metropolis of Istanbul with its millions of inhabitants. Caused by an overgrowth of algae and small organisms, the viscous slime threatens the marine ecosystem as well as the associated fishing industry and eventually also the tourism sector. And germs that thrive in this biomass pose a health hazard to humans.


Wastewater discharges one of the main causes

Scientists assume this plague is due to the warming of the sea water because of climate change and many years of heavy pollution by inadequately treated sewage discharged to the ocean. In many cases, this sewage comes from private households and companies: about 25 million people live on the shores of the Sea of Marmara and much of Turkey's industry is based there.


Turkish action plan with 22 points

The government under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has recognized the impending environmental disaster and now wants to act quickly. For example, in early June, Turkey's Environment Minister Murat Kurum presented a 22-point action plan to save the Sea of Marmara. While Turkey's ability to influence the effects of global climate change is, of course, rather limited, there are certainly regional options for action when it comes to pollution.


Towards better standards in wastewater treatment within three years

In particular, the government wants to upgrade the wastewater treatment plants around the inland sea, as the lion's share of the sewage produced by Istanbul's 16 million inhabitants is currently discharged into the Marmara Sea after pretreatment. According to the action plan, existing wastewater treatment plants and those to be built will be equipped with biological wastewater treatment in the next three years. To facilitate the facilities’ construction and operation, public-private partnership models are to be increasingly used.


More monitoring, more reuse

To monitor the discharges into the Sea of Marmara even better, there are plans to increase the number of monitoring points and to technologically upgrade the treatment plant inspection. In addition, the Turkish government intends to increase and support the reuse of treated wastewater wherever possible.

All these projects require modern environmental technology solutions—many of which can be found in the portfolio of exhibitors at IFAT Eurasia. From October 21 to 23, 2021, the international environmental technology fair will bring together market participants from the water, sewage, solid waste and recycling segments at the Istanbul Expo Center (IFM).

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