Overfishing, pollution threatening bluefish population
There is an alarming decrease in the stock of bluefish in the inland seas due to overfishing and pollution, said Saadet Karakulak, an academic from Istanbul University’s Faculty of Aquatic Sciences.
Nearly 25 tons of bluefish were caught in 2002, while this figure was 1.2 tons last year, he added.
The Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry in 2011 increased the minimum catch size from 14 to 18 centimeters for bluefish, but according to Karakulak, the catch size of 18 centimeters is still very small, since “most bluefish start reproducing at 24 to 25 centimeters and therefore the limit should at least be 25 centimeters.”
“Despite the warnings, the fishing size limit for bluefish was kept at 18 centimeters. Bluefish of this size do not lay eggs. They cannot reproduce before they reach 25 centimeters in size,” Karakulak noted.
In 2014, the authorities banned fishing in the summer months when fish reproduce, saying that they are tightening supervision in an effort to replenish stocks.
[HH] Fishermen worried
Kazım Demir, 65, who has been angling in Istanbul for 50 years, said that he once caught bluefish with a fishing rod when he was young and has not been able to put his hands on a big bluefish for a very long time.
“If no action is taken, my grandchildren will not be able to fish here,” Demir said.
Since bluefish are caught less, the prices are higher than they should be, and it is almost impossible to see a big bluefish, known as kofana in Turkish, on the fishing stands.
The number of buyers has decreased due to the high price of bluefish, said Savaş Düzenli, a fish seller.
Bluefish were sold in kilograms previously, but this is not possible today due to the current circumstances, he added.
The price of a bluefish at Karaköy Fish Market in the center of Istanbul varies between 60 and 80 Turkish Liras ($8-10).