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Gulf of Saros faces pollution risk

GELİBOLU, Çanakkale - Daily News with wires | 10/12/2009 12:00:00 AM |

A gulf in the north Aegean faces the risk of pollution as a result of the excessive use of chemical fertilizers in the Thrace Region, an expert says.

A gulf in the north Aegean faces the risk of pollution as a result of the excessive use of chemical fertilizers in the Thrace region, an expert has said.

More fertilizers, water and pesticides are being used to increase agricultural production yields more than ever before, while the residue is being carried to the Gulf of Saros, a popular diving and fishing spot, by the Ergene and Meriç (Evros) rivers. Thrace Natural Resources and Energy Association Chairman Hüseyin Erkin told the Anatolia news agency that authorities should act immediately to save the bay.

“Developed countries, for example the Netherlands, control the use of even natural fertilizers, let alone chemical ones,” said Erkin. “The hybrid seeds that are used in agriculture are renewed every year, while farmers use pesticides every year, contributing to pollution. Soil and water that are polluted won’t be renewed for thousands of years.”  

According to Erkin, the amount of fertilizers used per hectare in Thrace is twice the normal amount. The nitrogenous fertilizers used in rice lands in the region especially increase the soil’s salinity and nitrate pollution in underground waters. Despite the legal necessity, the province of Edirne and its districts have yet to complete sewage treatment plants, said Erkin, adding that the landfills in the region are also a threat to the environment.

“The factories that cause the pollution in Ergene River should be immediately shut down and should not be allowed to resume production until they complete their treatment plants,” said the chairman.  

Erkin said the rivers in the Thrace region are also a source of clean water for Istanbul. “But soon, the industry in Istanbul will move to Thrace, causing a population boom,” he said. “The population will triple in the region, dramatically increasing the need for water. The water in the rivers here should be used by the people in the region.”

[HH] Popular spot

The Gulf of Saros is an inlet of the northern Aegean Sea located north of the Gallipoli Peninsula in northwestern Turkey.

The gulf, 75 kilometers long and 35 kilometers wide, offers various opportunities for scuba divers with limited time. Its proximity to Istanbul, the richness of its diving experience and camping grounds make it a favorite for divers. Divers can swim with the fish in the Aegean amid wreckages left over from World War I and see corals at a depth of just 5 meters. For those that do not enjoy scuba diving, there are boats that can transport tourists to these wreckages. Moreover, many locations in the gulf are suitable for windsurfing. Professional surfers particularly enjoy Güneyli village, just 12 kilometers from Gelibolu. The season lasts from June to September.

The gulf is one of the best places in the region for fishing, as the shipwrecks have become attractive places for fish. Gilt head bream, blue fish, octopus, red mullet and eel are some of the fish that can be caught here. 

Contrary to common belief, Saros was home to many civilizations like the Venetians, Byzantines and Ottomans throughout history. A bridge spans the Ergene River and was built by Sultan Murat II in 1444. The castle of Anios – the richest Greek kingdom of the time – stands as a grandiose fixture at the harbor in Enez, providing evidence of Saros’ long history. The salt lake on Erikli beach was mentioned in Ottoman archives as the source of salt to meet Istanbul's needs.

Enez was an important port in ancient times. It dates back to the 12th century B.C. and was an important settlement during the Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Currently, it is an open air museum. Its castle has been restored several times throughout history and is well worth a visit. A church dating from the sixth century A.D., some carved tombs, and a beach with clear water make the place an interesting stopover.

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