Schools of mackerel back in Marmara Sea

Schools of mackerel back in Marmara Sea

Schools of mackerel back in Marmara Sea

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Istanbul fishermen who set sail in the Marmara Sea after the end of the five-month seasonal fishing ban on Sept. 1, have come across schools of mackerel, a fish that used to be plentiful but has rarely been seen in recent years. 

However, experts warn that overhunting may again put an end to the appearance of the fish in the Marmara Sea, its natural migration route, daily Habertürk reported. 

“We see the remigration of this fish after 40 years as a sign of abundance in the sea. I believe that if mackerels would live in the Marmara Sea for at least one year, we would see them in the future,” said Erdoğan Kartal, the head of the Istanbul Region Aquaculture Cooperatives Association (İSTBİRLİK).

A kilogram of mackerel is sold for 20 Turkish Liras nowadays.

Horse mackerel and sardines, meanwhile, are 20 liras for one kilogram, as small bonitos are sold for 15 liras and big bonitos for 30 liras at Istanbul markets.

Fishermen said they returned empty-handed from the sea on the first day of the fishing season, but they managed to catch plenty of mackerel on Sept. 5.

However, Tahsin Sarıyaprak, a fish seller in Istanbul’s central Beşiktaş Bazaar, said customers are not buying much fish nowadays.

“Because of Eid al-Adha [Feast of Sacrifice], there is red meat everywhere. Customers will be redirected to fish when the effect of this holiday is over,” he said.

Mackerel has been scarce in the Marmara Sea, said Ergin Korkmaz, a fisherman.

“This year, we have also found whiting off the Aegean province of İzmir. This fish, of which 40-50 cases are caught per day, can be seen from the Dardanelles to Marmaris,” he said.

Korkmaz also said fishing season did not start well this year, but the amount of fish would be more obvious after a seasonal storm. 

“Now, the fish are moving dispersedly in the sea. A storm will erupt called ‘black chestnut’ between Sept. 17 and 18. So, we are waiting for it. With this storm, numbers of bonitos and bluefish will run to Marmara from Bulgaria, Russia and Romania. Following the storm, sea water temperature will decrease as the fish population will rise,” he added.  

With the lifting of the fishing ban on Sept. 1, sector representatives remarked they were hopeful about the new season and expected at least a 50 percent drop in fish prices.