10 tons of cockles to be sold in Europe seized in Turkey
Çanakkale Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Livestock officials said the cockles had been illegally picked by locals in Aegean coasts, especially in the province of İzmir, to be sold at a higher price in European countries such as Italy and Greece.
Collecting and selling cockles are banned in Turkey and they are not used in Turkish cuisine and seafood dishes because they contain heavy metal contents.
Officials said cockles can be sold at 30 Turkish Liras, but can be found at a price four to six times more in European countries.
Traffickers use a route passing through the northwestern province of Çanakkale to smuggle them to Europe, according to the officials.
But security forces have tightened measures in Çanakkale against the traffickers, patrolling some places at nights and searching depots during the morning hours.
So far, security forces seized 10 tons of cockles picked in the Marmara and Aegean coasts, later releasing them to nature from the Çanakkale coast after going through a process of weighing them.
Some 17 people reportedly involved in the trafficking of the cockles were fined 23,100 liras each.
The head of the Aquaculture Cooperative in Çanakkale, Hakan Uysal, warned that cockles eaten without any health control can harm people’s health, while adding that some stations can be set up to conduct safety checks.
“These stations need to inspect if there are heavy metal content in the cockles. Uncontrolled hunting is harmful to the ecosystem in the seas and the human health. Cockles are not hunted in our province. Generally, the cockles are illegally hunted in the İzmir gulf. Over the last few years, we have caught them with our security forces while they were being smuggled through our province,” he said.