Turkey should change the fishing policy it has been implementing since the 1940s, an expert has said, noting that the amount of fish caught has decreased by 50 percent in the last two decades.
“In the 2000s, the amount of fish caught in all our seas was 500,000 to 600,000 tons. According to the statistics of 2021, this was just over 300,000 tons, which means a decrease by half,” said Mustafa Sarı, the dean of Bandırma Onyedi Eylül University’s Maritime Faculty.
“In those years, we were mostly hunting anchovies, as we are now, but the catch was nearly 350,000 tons. This number was around 150,000 tons last year,” Sarı said, adding there has also been a decrease in mackerel, bluefish, sardines and sprats.
“Earlier, 25,000 tons of bluefish, one of our most precious, was caught, but it has decreased to 5,000 tons now,” Sarı said.
“When we look at the big picture, we can see that our fisheries are gradually getting worse,” he added.
Türkiye needs to change its policy that has been in practice since the 1940s, Sarı said, calling the authorities to change the course.
“The U.S. and Canada changed their course in the 1990s, the EU in 2022, Chile in 2013, and Japan in 2003. However, we still continue to follow the same old policy,” Sarı said.
All parties, authorities and fishermen need to come together to accept this unfavorable situation and determine a new course, Sarı added.
In addition to climate change and marine pollution, the country’s fisheries policy also has an impact on the reduction of fish numbers, the expert explained.
He also pointed out that a policy on sustainable fishing is needed.
Meanwhile, anchovies that used to migrate to Turkish waters in autumn, have started to move to Georgia in recent years due to the increasing seawater temperature, according to the sector representatives.
Pointing to climate change as the reason behind the increase in water temperature, Saadet Karakulak, a professor from Istanbul University, said, “There has been a decrease of around 30 percent in the number of fisheries in the last 10 years.”
“This is not only due to climate change but also many factors such as overfishing, marine pollution, invasive species and illegal hunting,” Karakulak added.