With the opening of the fishing season on Sept. 1, Turkish authorities have ramped up inspections of fishery products in the largest metropolis, Istanbul, and across the country.
As part of the efforts, the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and coast guard staff inspected the Gürpınar Fisheries Market in Istanbul Wednesday.
"We have seized 5 tons of illegally caught aquatic products during our inspections as of Sept. 1. An administrative fine of approximately TL 300,000 ($16,434) has been imposed," Istanbul Provincial Director of Agriculture Ahmet Yavuz Karaca said.
"This season we're seeing lots of bonitos. We expect a good season for this particular fish. It is already reflected in the prices," he added.
The teams have ramped up inspections to prevent illegal fishing and as part of their efforts, inspected the Gürpınar Fisheries Market in the city's Beylikdüzü district which sells catches from the Bosporus as well as the Marmara and the Black Sea.
In addition to the Istanbul Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry, approximately 120 personnel, including the Coast Guard Northern Marmara Group Command, the Istanbul Police Department Sea Port Branch Office, the IMM Police Department and the chief of marine police participated in the inspection.
The inspections include routine checks of the fishing boats, including their documents and the electronic logbook. They also check whether the nets were branded, whether there were any fish in the tank and whether they recorded their catch before the logbook was checked. The teams also checked whether the fishing system monitoring device works.
There were no violations or incidents recorded during Wednesday's inspection.
"We were expecting a very fruitful season this year. We have already seen that in bonito catch. During today's inspections, we informed the related stakeholders about our plan regarding all shores of Istanbul. Our teams, with the Coast Guard Command in Şile, the islands, Tuzla and Sarıyer, have carried out inspections on all areas of Istanbul, including the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea. We can already see that the inspections are bearing fruit," he said.
"For sustainable fishing, to allow each fish to breed once in its lifetime, we must catch them at the legal minimum size. Our consumers should pay attention to this, 9 centimeters for anchovy, 13 centimeters for horse mackerel, 25 centimeters for bonito and 18 centimeters for bluefish. We recommend not to fish below this. If they don't take them, our fisherman won't catch them anyway," he added.
Karaca pointed out that Mackerel, which has not been in the Marmara Sea for 30 years, has started to return over the last two, or three years and so has squid. "This shows that the inspections have yielded positive results," he said.
Fishing is the main livelihood for thousands in the country surrounded by seas. Last year, it was partially hurt by sea snot or mucilage in the Marmara Sea but this year, an abundance of the fish, particularly bonito, is expected.
Fishery production rose 35.9% in about six years, rising to 799,851 tons last year, from 588,715 tons yearly, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), but fishery products obtained from seas decreased while aquaculture products are on the rise. Türkiye, on the other hand, boosted its fishery product exports by 74.1% in 2021, from more than $790.3 million to more than $1.3 billion.