The fact that your flag is waving on the opposite shore of the sea on which you are walking is proof enough that you are in an exceptional geography. And the Sea of Marmara is the main actor of this exceptional situation. We own a bridge made of water that is completely ours, that belong to Turkey, and that maintains its connection to the world waters through two nature’s wonder straits. And we know this ownership will continue only if we internalize our responsibilities. Marmara Municipalities Union, which was established in 1975 when 45 municipalities joined forces to prevent the pollution of the Marmara Sea with an exemplary motivation for shouldering responsibilities has scaled up its field of activity regarding the dynamics of local governments in Turkey, but it still continues with the same determination its activities about Marmara Sea which was actually one of the issues of sensitive nature since its foundation.
Today about 40 thousand ships per year pass through Çanakkale and Istanbul Straits, defined as the Turkish Straits System, and cities considered to be the catalysts of Turkey in terms of industry and trade and cities with significant competencies in terms of agricultural activities are all located around Marmara Sea. The population of Marmara region that can be associated with the Marmara region is more than 30% of the total population of Turkey. As if the pollution burden placed on the shoulders of the Marmara Sea by all those urban, agricultural, commercial and industrial activities was not enough, the surface current of the Danube River originating from Germany and running through almost all of South East Europe and flowing into the Black Sea by traveling about 3 thousand km creates a threat of pollution. While there are so many factors and the Marmara Sea is in such an important position, the affected aspects cannot be underestimated; we are faced with many issues that need to be addressed, from maintaining the vitality of the marine ecosystem to the risk the marine foods are exposed to, from transportation activities to tourism.
As Marmara Municipalities Union, we consider the Marmara Sea to have so many active/passive topics of discussion and parties, as an opportunity for creating synergy for the solution of the problems, and we look at the Marmara Sea from an environmental management perspective:
- In particular, treating urban wastewater at a level that meets the sensitive discharge criteria before discharge will greatly reduce the pollution load. Therefore, it is key to improve wastewater treatment processes of municipalities.
- It is important to control the threat arising from ships navigating and anchored within Turkish Straits System as well as the threat of pollution arising from urban or intercity sea transportation. At this point, we believe that holistic (air, sea and land) inspections options must absolutely be designed.
- Marine litter and micro plastic pollution is a very important topic for the Marmara Sea which is surrounded by metropolises. Solid waste management and street cleaning activities of municipalities that have a coast on are of decisive nature.
- In the Marmara Region, a further agricultural pollution load is also added with the surface current from the north and south to the Marmara Sea. In this context, the use of chemical fertilizers in agriculture and control of surface current are important.
- The pollution of the Marmara Sea is not only related to the urban life and industrial activities around it, but is also closely related to a pollution load coming from the Black Sea with surface currents. In this context, it is important to take part in international organizations also attended by Danube River countries.