ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News

The state of the world's oceans is alarming. Natural balances have been damaged, numerous species have been dying out, illegal fishing and the dumping of chemical waste have caused a variety of marine life to vanish altogether, and scientists claim certain fish and shellfish are a threat to human health due to excessive levels of mercury.
In response, an academic at Istanbul Bilgi University launched two campaigns, �The Mediterranean the Sad� and �Global Warming,� a few years ago to attract attention to the tragic end that may await the Mediterranean Sea.
After these projects received great interest from around the world, Ethem Özgüven, who teaches in the university's television reporting and programming department, has launched another campaign, called �The Mediterranean is Crying.�
With the cooperation of local and international volunteers, attention-grabbing graphic designs and booklets have been prepared and documentary films have been shot, all with intention of making the campaign an internationally recognized one.
During the campaign's preliminary phase, which took 1.5 years, Özgüven knocked on the doors of a number of both national and foreign universities to gather the views of different scientists. But his main source of information was small fishing boats. �The most striking details of the campaign's data were obtained from small fishing boats,� he said. �The result is that the Mediterranean Sea is giving us an SOS signal,� he added.
Özgüven noted that the Mediterranean Sea has faced serious levels of pollution in recent years caused by waste from more than 20 countries, including those in the Black Sea region, flowing into it. �These wastes have constantly been increasing, which damages natural balances. If the Mediterranean dies, then the land dies,� he said.
Özgüven also said the seas contain high level of poisonous substances as a result of chemical waste, making fish and shellfish harmful to human health. Özgüven, citing scientific studies, said many of the facts are not made public because of commercial interests but insisted that much of the sea life does contain excessive levels of mercury.
In addition to pollution, another threat to seas is global warming, he noted. �Species are becoming extinct. Nutrition chains have been broken. Excessive pollution has been coupled with rapidly increasing algae at the sea bottom.�

Fish killed thrown back into sea
Özgüven said he does not agree with the criticisms raised against fish farming, saying the farms function to cover a huge deficit.
�Our seas have become infertile,� he said, adding that if fish farms did not exist, fish on the table would be a luxury. The problem goes beyond the fish farms, he argued.
Nets from fishing boats are being placed closer and closer to the shores where fishing is carried out without complying with the rules. �A large amount of the fish caught in this way is thrown back into the sea as they are dead,� he said. �Big fishing boats catch 75 percent of all fish and small boats catch the rest,� he added.

Requests and questions
Another threat to the seas is fishing with the help of sonar equipment and radar at night. Özgüven noted that this type of activity is definitely a threat to numerous underwater species, including the endangered Caretta caretta turtles and the Mediterranean dolphin.
Urgent action is needed, he urged. �Our campaigns should be seen as and called social advertisement campaigns,� said Özgüven.
Inquiries about brochures, posters and documentary films can be made to