Turkey’s fish stock falls dramatically, extinction in sight

Turkey’s fish stock falls dramatically, extinction in sight

İZMİR – Anadolu Agency
Turkey’s fish stock falls dramatically, extinction in sight Turkey’s wild fish count has significantly fallen over the past 10 years by around 30 percent for a large number of fish species across Turkish waters, with at least one species of fish in danger of extinction.

The amount of fish species caught in 2005 was 334,248 tons, but this amount dropped by 30 percent to 231,000 tons in 2014, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported on July 30, sourcing the Turkish Statistical Institute’s (TurkStat) data on marine products in 2014.

Mullets caught totaled 10,560 tons in 2015, while the amount of mullets caught in 2014 was only 721 tons. The amount of red mullets caught in 2005, on the other hand, saw a fall over ten years and dropped from 2,825 tons to 1,426 tons.

The amount of leerfish caught was 505 tons in 2015 and this number fell to 173 tons in 2014. 

However, the amount of several fish species caught has actually risen over the past five years, such as sprat, whiting and striped red mullet.

Overfishing halts egg productivity

Turkey has a large capacity to fish, with innumerous fishing boats moving around the Black Sea, the Aegean and the Mediterranean, says Middle East Technical University Marine Sciences Professor Ali Cemal Gücü.

“Excess fishing has begotten a substantial downfall in fish stock,” Gücü said.

Overfishing does not provide an auspicious environment for fishes to lay their eggs, said Gücü, adding the turbot population in Turkey was dramatically falling in number and in danger of extinction.

“Turbot fishing should be prohibited and turbots should be protected. Even an international project should be jointly developed for turbot protection by Turkey, Ukraine and Romania,” he added. 

The Union of Marine Products Cooperative Head Ramazan Özkaya said part of the reason for Turkey’s decrease in fish was not only overfishing with boats in large numbers, but also inconvenient fishing practices, such as untimely fishing halting the reproduction of fish species.

Özkaya stressed the need to enact a new fishing law that would provide a reproductive marine environment saying a new bill asked for further authorization from the Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry to prevent excess fishing, but the law had not been enacted yet.  

Fishing boats would be watched with satellites and immediate action would be taken against illegal fishing within the new law, Özkaya said. 

“Heavy punishment should be applied to those who overfish and a quota should be introduced in fishing activities,” he added.