Fishermen in Lake Van cast lines as fishing ban ends
Fishermen have set off to Lake Van, Turkey’s largest lake, to catch pearl mullet as the fishing ban ends on July 15.
Completing all their preparations, fishermen living in settlements on the shores of the lake have set out in the early hours of the morning on July 15, calling out “Vira Bismillah,” meaning “raising the anchor in the name of God” in Turkish.
The authorities introduce a 90-day-long fishing ban every year in the lake to protect the endemic species of pearl mullet, which migrate the rivers that empty into Lake Van from April to July to spawn.
A father of three, Atilla Dağdelen, who has been fishing in the region for 20 years, said he expects a fruitful fishing season.
“We freeze the fish we catch and sell them to our customers in Ankara, İzmir and many different provinces, especially in Istanbul,” he said.
Nearly 20,000 people make a living with pearl mullet in the province, and a turnover of 10 million dollars is generated annually from the sale of that species, according to Abdulkerim Yücel, a local official.
The pearl mullet swims upstream to spawn, moving into the freshwater rivers that feed into the lake to lay its eggs and then returning to Lake Van once the young fish have hatched.
Local residents, however, use to see the spawning period as a prime time for fishing, snapping up the pearl mullet in buckets and nets, as the fish leaped out of the water on their way upstream.
Yücel also reminded that 156 people were fined with 380,000 Turkish Liras ($45,000) and 144 fishing equipment were confiscated during the fishing ban.