Turkish authorities seize 21 tons of fish for ‘violating size regulations’
Fırat Alkaç – ISTANBUL
Authorities in Istanbul have seized some 21 tons of small fish for violating size regulations since the start of the fishing season on Sept. 1.
Units from the Provincial Directorate of Food, Agriculture and Livestock have been carrying out controls as a precaution against fishermen who violate the ban on catching small fish.
Fishermen are not allowed to catch fish smaller than specified in the law. The legal limit is 13 centimeters for horse mackerels and 11 centimeters for mullets.
In the third wave of operations, teams consisting of 70 people simultaneously raided wholesale market halls selling water products, the points of landing and taking off of ships, several retail stores and cold storage depots.
Some 17 types of fish were confiscated, including 1,424 cases of horse mackerels, 145 cases of brushtooth lizardfish, 12 cases of whiting, and four cases of mullets.
The seized fish were delivered to the National General Directorate of Real Estate.
Punishments for fishermen illegally catching small fish have been stepped up this year, with 49 fishermen sentenced to pay administrative fines worth 49,386 Turkish Liras each for violating the law on water products.
Provincial Director of Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ahmet Yavuz Karaca told daily Hürriyet on Sept. 29 that nearly 125 tons of fish were seized in checks carried out since the start of the fishing season.
Karaca previously called on fishermen to abide by the rules in order for generations of fish to continue into future.
“If our fishermen follow the rules, they would help to increase the number of fish. As the provincial directorate, we will be monitoring all unlawful fishing. In particular we will never allow fish under the determined legal size to be caught,” he had said.
In the previous wave of operations carried out on Sept. 8, 10 tons of horse mackerels and 390 kilograms of mullets were seized.
The smallness of fish being caught in Turkish waters has been a long-debated issue, with Greenpeace launching a campaign in 2010 in order to prevent the exhaustion of fish in the country.
Environmental activists from Greenpeace launched the “How many centimeters is your [fish]?” campaign seven years ago in a bid to push the Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry to increase the legal fish size limit. Awareness of the issue has been increasing ever since.
Elsewhere, mass fish deaths from industrial waste have reached dangerous levels in the Karacabey district of the northwestern province of Bursa.
Villagers and environmental activists in the area have been drawing attention to deaths for a number of days, reportedly determined to be stemming from industrial waste released into waters from a factory.
Bursa Governor İzzettin Küçük said on Sept. 28 that the factory responsible for the fish deaths in the Canbalı Stream has been determined, located just over the provincial border in Balıkesir.
“We have completed our investigations. I won’t name the factory. But it’s not located inside Bursa’s borders, so we have notified authorities in Balıkesir,” Küçük told reporters.