Fishermen in Turkey cast lines as seasonal fishing ban lifts
Turkey’s seasonal fishing season kicked off today after a five-month ban as fishermen hope for a fruitful season and a dramatic drop in fish prices in the new season.
Fishermen in the Black Sea ports, where nearly 75 percent of the fisheries in the country take place, completed all their preparations yesterday and set out to sea as of midnight, calling out “Vira Bismillah,” meaning “raising the anchor in the name of God.”
Reviewing their nets that they repaired during the ban for the last time and getting prepared for the fishing season, fishermen in the Black Sea province of Sinop were informed about the rules to be followed at sea and the COVID-19 measures before taking anchor.
A fishing ban is imposed every year between April 15 - Sept. 1 to preserve fish eggs and ensure sustainable fish farming.
Experts and sector representatives are hopeful for a bountiful fishing season.
They note that Turkish waters from the Georgian coasts to the Bulgarian border are full of bonito, adding that they foresee up to 50 percent decrease in prices in the coming weeks.
“Bonito is attached to the fishing rods in the section from Istanbul offshore to the Hopa border. This shows us that the acorn will be quite abundant,” said Talat Baş, a fisherman completing his preparations on the Black Sea coast of Istanbul.
“However, if the bonito is abundant, the anchovies may be less,” he said, adding that he is also hopeful about fish such as horse mackerel and bluefish, which is the most profitable variety for fishermen.
Fish prices will fall as of the beginning of the season as more fish are caught and sent to markets, according to sector representatives.
They were hopeful about the new season and expected at least a 50 percent drop in fish prices, which will increase the fish consumption.
“The pandemic reminded the importance of healthy food. I hope the consumption will increase thanks to the abundance of fish this year,” said Ahmet Tuncay Sagun, a sector representative.
“While six to eight kilograms of fish are consumed annually in Turkey, this figure is on average of about 24 kilograms in European countries, 28 kilograms in the U.S. and 75 kilograms in Japan,” Sagun added.
Meanwhile, expectations are not different in the Mediterranean shores, where the fishing ban will continue for another 15 days.
An academic from Akdeniz University in the Mediterranean province of Antalya said that the fish population increased during the COVID-19 period.
Noting that fishing has not been done for a long time due to the pandemic, Mehmet Gökoğlu stated that the leerfish, which have a breeding period in April and May, can leave plenty of eggs in this process.
Explaining that they detected a large amount of leerfish on the coasts, Gökoğlu stated that there was a considerable increase compared to last year.