Boycott ends, fish prices drop

Boycott ends, fish prices drop

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Boycott ends, fish prices drop

A fishmonger at Istanbul’s Karaköy fish market sprinkles water on newly arrived fish. The market was stocked with fresh fish as a three-day boycott by local fishermen to protest a new regulation ended yesterday. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Istanbul fish prices sharply fell back to last season’s price levels yesterday, after a three-day boycott against new fishing depth regulations came to an end.

One kilogram of anchovy was sold at 5 Turkish Liras in Istanbul’s Karaköy fish market, down from 7-10 liras in the three days of the boycott. The price per bonito also dropped to 10 liras, from nearly 20 liras.

Fishermen based in Istanbul again set sail yesterday, after a Sept. 3 meeting between industry representatives and Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker neared a consensus on the levels at which fisherman can fish.

A fish seller based in the Karaköy fish market, Yaşar Ellibeş, praised the new regulations. “The regulations are right and in four years we may see more kinds of fish [in the fish markets]. It is particularly good for anchovies,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. The fishing ban is particularly good for the Princes’ Islands, just off Istanbul, as the islands are spawning areas, he added.

Fishermen will be monitored as to whether they obey the new regulation via microchips attached to their boats.However, some fishermen in Istanbul reacted against the 24-meter fishing depth limit yesterday, saying that the ban would affect the bonito hunt the most.

“Anchovy is caught at 40 to 50 meters of depths. But we want to catch fish such as saurel, bonito. This year bonito is abundant, and we want our people to eat bonito cheaply. But this is not possible with the current regulation,” Istanbul Fish Brokers Association President Mahmut Uçan said yesterday, adding that the troubles of the fishermen would continue.

The closed fishing season ended on Sept. 1, but the ministry increased the depth limit for fishing with dragnet boats to 24 meters from 18, and revealed new areas where fishing is prohibited, causing an outcry among some fishermen.

Talks with the ministry
“Some of the new regulations are fair, but we discussed [with the minister] possible flaws in practice and some issues that should be reviewed so that they do not harm the industry, fishermen, or fish consumers. The discussion was very constructive,” said Istanbul Aquaculture Cooperative President Ümit Çetinkaya on Sept. 3, after meeting with Minister Eker, according to Anatolia news agency.

He said the fishermen would adhere to all the new restrictions, but that the regulation should take regional differences into account.

He also said the depth limit should be revised down to reasonable levels for fish that emigrate between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31 and that the ministry would be evaluating this demand.

“When you set the depth limit at 24 meters, you practically leave out İskenderun Bay and the fishing zones in Mersin, because there is not even 24 meters of depth in the seas there,” he said. The regulations in fishery should be based on species, geographical structure, and depth differences, and detailed coordinates should be determined, he added.

Daily News photographer Emrah Gürel contributed to this report from Istanbul.