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Istanbul Canal: Turkey wants to build a 28-mile sea canal but many don’t want it

PortandTerminal.com, December 25, 2019

ANKARA, TURKEY –  Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wants the country to build a 28-mile canal that would connect the Black Sea to the north and the Marmara Sea to the south.

Erdogan says it will ease traffic and prevent accidents on the natural Bosphorus strait, one of the world’s busiest waterways, which cuts through the city of Istanbul, home to 15 million people.

Bosphorus Strait chokepoint

This heatmap shows the massive amount of maritime traffic funnelled through the Bosphorus Strait chokepoint

The main purpose of the canal project is to reduce the amount of marine traffic through the Bosphorus Strait and minimize the risks and dangers associated particularly with tankers. About 56,000 vessels pass yearly through the Istanbul Strait (part of the Bosphorus Strait), among them 10,000 tankers carrying 145 million tons of crude oil. 

Once completed, Kanal Istanbul will have a length of 28–31 miles with a depth of 82 ft. Its width will be 490 ft on the surface and 390 ft at the canal bed. These dimensions will allow the largest vessels to pass.

On December 27th a cargo ship ran aground closing the Bosphorus

Opposition to Kanal Istanbul

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on Dec. 25 outlined 15 reasons to oppose the planned Kanal Istanbul project.

Not everyone though is happy about the “Kanal Istanbul” project, including the Mayor of Istanbul.

At a press conference on December 25th, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu outlined 15 reasons to oppose the planned Kanal Istanbul project.

Critics say that the ambitious Kanal Istanbul project could displace thousands of people, imperil Istanbul’s tenuous water supply, and impact ocean life.

“If the project is realized, Istabul, which has been existing for 8,500 years, will lose both its under- and aboveground water sources. Let alone the other 14 reasons, this reason on its own stipulates shelving the project,”

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu

Opposition lawmakers and ecologists say an environmental impact report on the canal, a key step for such massive infrastructure projects, does not adequately address all the problems that the canal could cause.

Erdogan has repeatedly said the construction would go ahead despite any opposition.

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