Istanbul and other cities’ harbours, shorelines and swathes of seawater have been blanketed by the viscous greyish substance, some of which is suffocating life on the seabed.
Turkey will clean up the entire Sea of Marmara from marine mucilage in part by declaring it a protected conservation area, the Turkish president said on Wednesday.
The thick layer of organic matter has spread through the sea south of Istanbul covering harbours, shorelines and swathes of the surface. Some has sunk below the waves, suffocating seabed life.
"By declaring the entire Sea of Marmara a Conservation Area, bringing the most advanced technology to our wastewater treatment systems, and taking all other necessary steps, we will clean the Marmara," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Justice and Development (AK) Party's parliamentary group.
The nation will protect Turkey's coasts from the threat of pollution with the support and contributions of science, he added.
"We’re also completing our strategic plan, which includes our roadmap for a permanent solution to the mucilage issue, within three months," he said.
Erdogan also reiterated that the AK Party's parliamentary group plans to form an inquiry committee to investigate the issue of mucilage – also known colloquially as “sea snot” – in the Sea of Marmara.
"If it is our responsibility to make up for the shortcomings of institutions that cannot do their job, regardless of their party, we will not hesitate to do what is needed," he said.
Joint effort to cleanse sea
Turkey on Tuesday launched its largest and most comprehensive sea cleaning mobilisation yet to save the Sea of Marmara from the mucilage.
Mucilage is the overgrowth of microscopic algae called phytoplankton. The thick, mucus-like slimy layer contains a variety of microorganisms and is caused by rising seawater temperature due to global warming, stagnant water, and pollution.
Scientists say climate change and pollution have contributed to the proliferation of the substance, which contains a wide variety of microorganisms and can flourish when nutrient-rich sewage flows into seawater.
The government’s 22-point action plan to clear the surge in mucilage will be jointly carried out by the Environment and Urbanization Ministry, Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry, and Agriculture and Forestry Ministry.
The Health Ministry, Interior Ministry, related institutions, NGOs, and coastal municipalities under the coordination of governorships are also taking part.