Bluefish holiday in Istanbul

Bluefish holiday in Istanbul

A festivity was held over the weekend in Istanbul, in one of the city’s older settlements, Kuzguncuk, at the shore of the Bosphorus, the “Bluefish [lüfer] Holiday.”

Any Istanbul resident would agree the bluefish is the “sultan of the Bosphorus.”

Its Latin is “pomatomus saltatrix,” in English, it is called “bluefish,” the French say “temnodon sauteur” and the taste of this fish is just unique.

It is fished for right at this season at the Marmara Sea and it has different names given to it depending on whether it is at its adolescent stage or mature stage. However, because of excessive fishing and sea pollution in the Marmara Sea, the bluefish is a species in danger of extinction.

According to hydro-biologist Levent Artüz, who has been researching the Marmara Sea for many years, nearly 100 species of fish have gone extinct in the past 40 years. The bluefish has decreased to a rate of 58 percent.

It was five years ago when the campaign “Do not let Istanbul miss its bluefish” was launched. The person behind this and the holiday is Defne Koryürek, a food activist, the Turkey representative of the “Slow Food Movement.” She has been telling us for years that the bluefish should only be caught only after it has grown past 20 centimeters.

When its offspring, which have been given different names, are fished, then there will be no bluefish left. She has been rightly claiming the next generation will never be able to taste this deliciousness.

With her “Bluefish Protection Team” she from time to time visits markets around Istanbul and measures the length of the bluefish. She wants those who sell bluefish that measure less than 20 cm to be reported to the food hotline “174.”

Not only the bluefish, but other fish species are seriously in danger in the Marmara Sea. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute’s sea products data, in the past 40 years, mackerel has decreased 95 percent, bonito 90 percent and red mullet 73 percent.

During the same period, Marmara’s share of in the total water products production of Turkey has gone back from 22 percent to 6 percent. Other data also shows that not only the Marmara Sea, but the fishing sector in the whole of Turkey is suffering.

Turkey is surrounded by sea on three sides; its shores are 8,333 kilometers-long and it has rivers 177,714 kilometers-long.

In short, Turkey has quite adequate resources for aquaculture and fishing, but it is far from being a developed country in fishing. In 2011, with its 703,000 tons of production, Turkey only constitutes 0.45 percent of the world’s water products production.

The fishing sector, which provides jobs for 47,000 people, has 0.4 percent contribution to the gross domestic product.

In the Tenth Development Plan covering the 2014 and 2018 period, certain targets have been determined to advance the fishing sector. However, as experts point out, industry based on water products in Turkey is only in its infancy state. For this reason, the festival of the bluefish, even though it is an Istanbul fish, is important because it draws attention to the sector’s problems.