Turkish fishermen hear the call of the seas in Mauritania
AA photoThe number of Turkish fishing boats off the northwest African coast of Mauritania has risen to 33, up from just two last year, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Aug. 23.
The fisherman have been giving their catch to factories established by Turkish entrepreneurs in Mauritania to be turned into fish flour, which is then sent to Turkey.
One of the Turkish fishermen, Mehmet Aksoy, the head of a local fisherman foundation in Turkey’s Aegean province, spoke to Anadolu Agency via phone from the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott. He said that although a fishing agreement did not exist between Mauritania and Turkey, the Mauritania government “looked after” Turkish fishermen in the country and was letting the Turkish fish in the region due to a “friendship” between the two countries.
Aksoy said the seas around Mauritania were very fertile and earnings were high, prompting Turkish fishermen to increase their number of ships to 33.
Fishermen from China, Norway, Spain, France, and Portugal have been fishing off Mauritania for many years within the context of signed official agreements. Turkey does not have such an agreement, and many Turkish fisherman have been given fines for passing through waters closed to Turkish ships.
“Many fines have been given due to such violations. The highest such penalty was given to my ship, a fine of $650,000. I cannot say ‘this fine was unjust,’” Aksoy said, while noting that they were holding meetings with the Mauritania government for a reduction of the fines.
“The Mauritanian government does not let ships embark on international waters if they do not pay the fines. This is very natural and it is also this way in Turkey. But there are no Turkish ships in Mauritania that are withheld and forbidden from going fishing. The Turkish ships are just given fines and keep on fishing,” said Aksoy, who has been fishing off Mauritania with his ship called “Oruç Reis.”
He also stated that Turkish fisherman are “creating a difference” in Mauritania.
“We are very hard-working compared to the fishermen of other countries. The fishermen [of other countries] are working shifts of around eight hours [a day], but we are in the sea for 24 hours. We do not even talk on the phone when we are on the hunt, we just focus on the hunt. In others, there is no such seriousness,” Aksoy said.
Five factories have been established by Turkish firms in Mauritania, and most of the fish caught by Turkish fishermen gets sent to these factories, particularly in order to be turned into fish flour.
“Thanks to the fishing here, the pressure on fishing off the Turkish coasts has been eased. All the ships that are big enough to trawl 1,000 tons of anchovies in one night are now here in Mauritania,” Aksoy said.
“As a result, there has been a big decrease in the number of ships fishing for anchovies in the Black Sea region. We think that the fishing for anchovies will decrease this year [in Black Sea], which will increase prices. In the previous years, a majority of anchovies caught by these ships were being turned into fish flour but now we can say they will completely go to meal tables,” he added.
By the end of 2017, the number of Turkish ships trawling off the Mauritanian coast will increase to 40 and they will contact government officials in order for fishing grounds to be reregulated, Aksoy also stated.