The Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) ratified a bill late Thursday to fight the marine mucilage, commonly known as sea snot, which affected the Marmara Sea last year.
The bill, part of a more comprehensive package for environmental protection, aims to curb human-made pollution, which contributed to the emergence of thick layers of substance that choked the marine life in the Marmara for a few months in 2021. Under the bill, the municipalities will be required to set up advanced wastewater treatment facilities. It also brings hefty fines to those responsible for discharging solid and household waste into the sea by maritime vehicles.
The municipalities must present their plans for advanced waste treatment facilities within six months under the bill, which covers only municipalities of provinces littoral to the Marmara Sea and a water basin connected to the sea.
Operators of maritime tankers polluting the sea by unregulated waste discharge will be fined TL 30,000 at most, based on their weight. Port operators will also be held accountable if they fail to report pollution to authorities or fail to implement measures against pollution.
The pollution is the main cause of sea snot that partially emerged again in the sea earlier this year before disappearing. But experts warn that the danger is not over as long as the untreated waste is discharged into the sea.
Municipalities complain lack of funds for establishing better treatment centers to prevent pollution. Yet, in most pollution cases, the industrial facilities, which seek to dodge costly treatment of polluting industrial waste, are the culprits.
In Kocaeli, a northwestern province and the industrial hub on the Gulf of Izmit, Hakan Osanmaz says they instilled a sense of "self-control" in industries. Osanmaz is the pilot of a plane employed by the local municipality to patrol the gulf against pollution. "Factories themselves call us and report the pollution they caused now," he told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Friday.
The gulf is being monitored from above since 2006 against pollution and along with factories, it checks upon vessels. Since 2006, some 486 vessels have been fined a total of TL 70 million for polluting the sea. "Vessels do not pollute the sea anymore, but we see accidents causing pollution at times," Osanmaz says.