Fishing season set to open amid calls to work on ‘sustainability’

Fishing season set to open amid calls to work on ‘sustainability’

Fishing season set to open amid calls to work on ‘sustainability’

Turkey’s annual fishing season will open tomorrow after a 4.5-month ban as experts call for efforts to ensure the sustainability of sea products.

“In order to use resources efficiently, aquaculture training centers should be established, aquaculture, hunting and R&D studies should be supported more, and the organizational structure in the sector should be strengthened,” Şemsi Bayraktar, the head of the Union of Turkish Chambers of Agriculture (TZOB), said yesterday.

A fishing ban is imposed every year between April 15 and Sept. 1 to preserve fish eggs and ensure sustainable fish farming.

Last year, Turkish fishing fleets caught 171,253 tons of anchovies, marking nearly 59 percent of all hunted fishery. Sprat (26,804 tons) and sardines (22,743 tons) followed it.

Overall, Turkey’s total hunted fishery volume decreased 23.2 percent year on year in 2020 to 364,400 tons, whereas aquaculture products increased 4.8 percent to 421,411 tons, according to Bayraktar’s remarks.

In 2010, Turkish fishermen had caught 485,939 tons of fish.

“The amount of hunted anchovy also dropped 37.7 percent compared to the previous year in 2020. In the same year, the amount of fishery products consumption per capita increased from 6.2 kilograms to 6.7 kilograms, but the amount of water products consumption per capita is still below the world average,” Bayraktar said.

“Supply and demand equilibrium should be restored in a bid to do sustainable fishing. Price stability should be ensured, while educational and promotional activities are expanded to increase consumption,” Bayraktar added.

On the other hand, Turkish fish farms have been developing on the country’s 8,333 kilometer-long coastlines in recent years.

Turkey’s aquaculture exports exceeded $1 billion for the first time last year, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) data.

The country’s exports of fishes, crustaceans, mollusks and other aquatic invertebrates continued to increase last year.

The country’s aquaculture exports were $744.56 million in 2016, $797.25 million in 2017, $879.59 million in 2018, $962.23 million in 2019 and over $1 billion in 2020.

On the import side, the country’s aquaculture imports were $143.1 million last year.

The main destination of Turkish aquaculture exports was the Netherlands with $133.08 million, followed by Russia with $131.9 million, Italy with $121.45 million and Greece with $81.24 million.

Ramazan Özkaya, the head of the Central Union of Fishery Cooperative, said Turkey’s main export products are trout, bream and seabass.

Turkey is the largest fish provider in Europe and even exports tuna to Japan, he noted.

Experts and sector representatives are hopeful for a bountiful fishing season.

Fishermen in the Black Sea ports, where nearly 75 percent of fishing fleets operate, have completed all their preparations.

They note that Turkish waters from the Georgian coasts to the Bulgarian border are full of bonito, adding that they foresee up to a 50 percent decrease in prices in the coming weeks.