June 23, 2021

Turkish authorities are attempting to clean up seas heavily affected by a layer of slimy “marine mucilage” – also known as “sea snot” – that is damaging marine life and affecting the country’s fishing industry.

The outbreak of “sea snot”, as it has been referred to in news reports, is thought to be due to high levels of pollution and warmer temperatures, with stagnant waters most affected.

Caused by excessive growth of marine microorganisms called phytoplankton, the marine mucilage has reportedly been a problem in Turkey since at least 2007.

The problem, which has caused large numbers of fish deaths, is predicted to become more severe in the years to come because of climate change.

Among the areas affected by the current outbreak is the Marmara Sea, where the Turkish authorities are said to have removed more than 2,500 cubic metres of marine mucilage during a seven-day period earlier this month.

Fines worth hundreds of thousands of euros have been levied on businesses that have made discharges blamed for the flare up.

Fisheries and aquaculture are major industries in Turkey, with annual production valued at $1.48 billion (€1.24 billion) in 2018, according to figures from the The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development  (OECD). Just under a quarter of this was accounted for by fish caught in the wild.

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