Marine species around Istanbul islands at risk due to seine nets

Marine species around Istanbul islands at risk due to seine nets

Bülent Ovacık – ISTANBUL
Marine species around Istanbul islands at risk due to seine nets

Hürriyet Photo

Fishes, corals and several other marine species living under part of the Marmara Sea that surrounds Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands are under severe threat due to the large amount of seine nets abandoned by Turkish fishermen.

Having long been a breeding ground for fish species coming from the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea, the seabed of the Marmara Sea around the Prince Islands has become covered with tons of lead because of the durability of the seine net, a mass fishing net made of synthetic materials that can endure without dissolving for years.

Thousands of meters of seine nets in the Marmara Sea have destroyed the living spaces of fishes, corals and several other marine species that Turkey is theoretically bound to protect in line with international agreements. 

Despite a ban on using seine nets in the area around the Princes’ Islands imposed in the second half of 2012, some fishermen have continued to use them. Disgarded seine nets can also damage water, electricity and underwater gas pipelines.

In a bid to draw attention to the current threat due to the seine net covering the seabed around the islands, a workshop was held to publicize the sensitive ecosystem in the area, with the participation of the Princes’ Islands District Municipality, several municipalities from districts on Istanbul’s Asian side, fishing organizations, and civil society organizations and environmental advocacy groups.  

“Me and friends have dived many times into the sea and carefully collected seine nets,” Volkan Narcı, a former Prince Islands resident and diver, told daily Hürriyet. 

Narcı said the results of the workshop would be presented to the Environment Ministry to demand closer adherence to the ban on fishing with seine nets around the islands.

The Princes’ Islands make up an archipelago of nine islands and two rocky spaces in the Marmara Sea. A popular summertime excursion site among local and foreign tourists, the islands together make up a district municipality within Istanbul.