Sea Snot Outbreak in Turkey

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    Recently, Turkey’s Sea of Marmara has witnessed the largest outbreak of sea snot.

    • The Sea of Marmara connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, where too the sludge has been spotted.
    • Turkey recorded its first outbreak in 2007, in the Aegean Sea near Greece.

    (Image Courtesy: BI)

    About Sea Snot

    • It is marine mucilage (thick, gluey substance) or a slimy layer of grey or green sludge, which can cause considerable damage to the marine ecosystem.
    • It looks like a viscous, brown and foamy substance.
    • Cause: It is formed when algae are overloaded with nutrients.
      • The nutrient overload occurs when algae feast on warm weather caused by global warming
      • Water pollution adds to the problem as cities like Istanbul, which is home to 16 million people, discharge untreated water into the seas.
    • Impacts
      • The mucilage floats up on the surface of the sea and poses a severe threat to the marine ecosystem.
      • It has caused mass deaths among the fish population and has killed other aquatic organisms such as corals and sponges.
      • It has also spread to 80-100 feet below the surface. If not checked and taken care of, it can collapse to the bottom and cover the sea floor.
      • Over a period of time, it can poison all aquatic life, including fishes, crabs, oysters, mussels and sea stars.
      • It has also affected the livelihoods of fishermen as the sludge is getting collected in their nets, making them so heavy that they break or get lost.
        • Moreover, the mucilage coating the strings makes the nets visible to fish and keeps them away.
      • It can possibly lead to an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera in cities like Istanbul.
    • Steps Taken
      • The entire Sea of Marmara will be turned into a protected area.
      • Steps are being taken to reduce pollution and improve treatment of waste water from coastal cities and ships.
      • All other steps under the framework of a disaster management plan are being taken to save not only the present but also the future.
      • Turkey’s biggest maritime clean-up operation is being launched.
      • Local residents, artists and NGOs are being called to join hands to extend assistance.
    • Preventive Measures
      • The government should impose strong penalties on waste disposal facilities that fail to follow the rules.
      • Fresh investments to treat and purify waste water being pumped out of Istanbul are needed to provide a long-term solution to the crisis.
      • Turkey has planned to reduce nitrogen levels in the sea by 40 per cent, which would help tackle the crisis and prevent it from happening again.
      • Lawmakers and environmentalists have suggested the Turkey government to approve the Paris Agreement on climate change which aims to cut down on carbon emissions and reduce global temperatures.
        • Turkey is the only G20 country that has not ratified the Paris Agreement.
    Paris Agreement

    • It is a landmark agreement as it brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, for the first time.
    • It is a legally binding international treaty on climate change which replaced the Kyoto Protocol, an earlier related agreement.
    • It was adopted by 196 parties at COP 21 in Paris, in December 2015 and entered into force in November 2016.
    • Conference of Parties (COP) is the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
    • Aims: To limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius as compared to pre-industrial levels.
    • Frameworks
      • Technology Framework.
      • Capacity Building Framework.
      • Transparency Framework.
    • Implementation
      • It requires economic and social transformation, based on the best available science.
      • It works on a 5-year cycle of increasingly ambitious climate action carried out by countries.
      • Countries have submitted their plans for climate action known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
      • To better frame the efforts towards the long-term goal, it invited countries to formulate and submit by 2020 long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies (LT-LEDS).
        • LT-LEDS provide the long-term horizon to the NDCs and are not mandatory.
        • Nevertheless, they place the NDCs into the context of countries’ long-term planning and development priorities, providing a vision and direction for future development.

    Source: IE