More than half of the Turkish fisheries production takes place in the Black Sea. However, there is significant decrease in the fisheries stocks. There is no more anchovies which were once so much. Yet anchovy is a symbolic species for the Black Sea and a major livelihood source so that it has entered in folk songs.

Fisheries resources are decreasing in world oceans. Therefore FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) has introduced a new concept to debate, called Responsible Fisheries. Generated with a mentality of maximum sustainable resources, this concept means fishing and consuming marine resources by conserving every year.

Responsible fisheries call for fishing, processing and evaluating marine resources without depleting. Here are some examples to better understand Responsible Fisheries.

Example 1. Would you prefer to spend all your money in just one day or would you spend it gradually, taking into account the future? Certainly gradually, otherwise we cannot find money when needed!

Example 2. Would you prefer to catch all fish in just one year or would you prefer to consider the next years and catch only allowable size fish? The answer to this question is the conservation of fisheries resources by taking into account the future and not depleting the stocks.

1. WHY ARE THE RESPONSIBLE FISHERIES PRINCIPLES IMPORTANT?

Significant decrease in fisheries resources due to the increase in human population has been observed. All states make effort to use natural resources of their seas and inland waters without depleting them and take measures based on the results of researches. They enhance international cooperation including limiting the number of fishing vessels when necessary.
States make use of data on fisheries production, consumption, landed fish quantities, catch statistics, number and sizes of vessels. The main purpose of these studies called Fisheries Management is to take preventive measures that are required by responsible fisheries and to provide the conservation for aquatic species. In other words, it is management through ecosystem protection. This concept means to approach marine management and protection problems in an integral way. For example, if there is a decrease in anchovy population in the Black Sea, this is not just associated to the scarcity of nutrients; other factors such as water temperature, climate change, and pollution are also taken into account. In the integral approach, relations between marine and terrestrial species are also considered. Conservation plans are formed on these bases. To protect some species, urgent measures are taken instead of waiting for the results of long research studies because sometimes it can be too late. The Mediterranean Monk Seal shows an example for such case. All these applications are destined to sustainable fisheries purpose.

2. WHICH SPECIES OF FISHERIES RESOURCES ARE UNDER PROTECTION IN TURKEY?

In Turkey, restrictions on fisheries resources are supervised by the law number 1380 for fisheries circular.

Here are species for which catch, transport and sales are totally forbidden (Circular of year 2002, article 6):

Dolphins, Seals, Black Sea trout, Brown meagre, Sturgeons, Doctor fishes (Cyprinion macrostamus, Garra rufa), Slipper lobsters, Marine turtles, Sponges, Pen shell, Red Sea-star (Asterina pancerii), Triton, Seahorses, Abalone, Red Coral and Black Corals, Sea grasses (Posidonia oceanica, Zostera noltii)

Size (cm) restrictions of species for which catches are limited

These restrictions might change with the circular.

Carpet shell Clam
Red mullet
Leer fish
European Hake
Sea Bream
Spiny lobster
Anchovy
Common lobster
Horse mackerel
Oyster
Turbot
So-iuy mullet
Golden grey mullet
Flathead mullet
Other mullets
Swordfish
Red gurnard
Warty venus
Chup mackerel
Wedge shell
White grouper
Sea Bass
Black Scorpionfish
Bluefish
Blue crab
Striped bream
Striped venus clam
Corb
Goldband goatfish
Grouper
Atlantic bonito
Flounder
Meagre
Dentex
Striped red mullet
Bluefin Tuna
Atlantic mackerel
Albacore 
2.4
2.4
13
30
25
15
25
9
25
13
6
40
35
30
30
20
130
18
3
18
2.5
30
18
15
14
13
15
1.7
25
10
40
25
20
25
20
11
30kg
20
45

For Anchovy and Horse mackerel, 15% smaller the above size is allowed. For other species, 5 % smaller is allowed.
3. THE SEA HAS BEEN FINISHED.

Aquatic organisms are decreasing in all our seas. There are many species for which populations decrease even in the Black Sea, the most productive sea of Turkey.

Those are mainly Bluefin Tuna, Swordfish, Sturgeon and Atlantic Mackerel.

Bluefin Tunas weighing 300-400 kg caught in the Black Sea are now just in memories.

These decreases bring together unemployment problem and become a social drama…because fishermen and fisheries managers consider only present days and not future, they did not consider the damage that these decreases in fish populations will cost them. Yet it is not late. Although not much, we still have Red Mullet, Striped Red Mullet, Whiting, Horse Mackerel, Picarel and the famous Anchovy. If we correctly protect these fish, we can still have fish to take home.

Besides Sturgeons are among endangered species and some studies have been carried out by Turkish Marine Research Foundation in order to find ways to sustain their populations. To catch these fish is strictly forbidden. Unfortunately, it is illegally sold. Fish that are accidentally caught should be released back to the water. This is particularly important in case of young individuals. Those fish were once caught abundantly in İgneada, Kıyıköy, Sakarya and Melen Rivers, along the coasts of Kızılırmak and Yeşilırmak and caviar was produced in Bafra. These fish are now, however, at the risk of extinction. Fish that are cultured in order to increase the fish population are released in the Sakarya River by the specialists of Fisheries Faculty, Istanbul University.

Turbot which was once caught somewhat abundantly has also decreased in the last ten years because of overfishing. Some of fishermen shifted to open sea stocks and those fish declined too. In order to increase turbot stocks, turbot juveniles are produced and released to sea in Trabzon by the Fisheries Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Three Cetacean species present in the Black Sea known as Common Dolphin, Harbour Porpoise and Bottlenose Dolphin are under protection. Dolphins and porpoises die every year by entanglement in turbot nets. The estimations show that at least 3000 animals die and strand on beaches. It is known that there is an important decline in the number of cetaceans in the Black Sea. This is the reason why the turbot fisheries need to be restructured. We have to respect the living rights of other livings.

You might remember the Monk Seals once living in many regions like Akçakoca/Zonguldak. They are now disappeared.

Plants living in sea known as seagrass are also under threat. These plants act as nest and nursery grounds for many marine animals such as fish, crabs and others with their leaves and roots. The surroundings of seagrass fields are the living environments of juvenile soles, flounders, gobies and turbots.

4. WHAT DO THE COUNTRIES NEED TO DO FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

International cooperation is inevitable for the protection and conservation of living resources of the Black Sea. For example, anchovy which is the most important fish of the Black Sea migrates between all the coasts of the Black Sea. This is why the agreement on Black Sea Fisheries signed by all riparian countries is needed. Fishing quotas are given for the sustainable and common use of fish stocks of this sea.

Cooperation of the riparian countries and collective research studies are also necessary for the designation of fishing quotas. Besides, it is time for the Black Sea to put in place Marine Protected Areas or Marine Parks and close some areas to fisheries activities. For this reason, the declaration as Marine Protected Areas for areas which are on the migration routes of migratory fish and include species that need protection is required. Thus many marine organisms can reproduce, produce eggs, grow and contribute to unprotected areas. The Istanbul Strait and Cide-Doğanyurt regions are firstly determined as suitable areas. There is no doubt that other areas should be protected and all countries should declare Marine Protected Areas.

The fishing areas in the Black Sea are under various threats. Those are land based pollutants, chemical pollution, oil, plastic, nylons and other wastes. All these pollution elements prevent reproduction, feeding and living of aquatic organisms. For this reason, it is inevitable to stop pollution and contribute to the protection of marine environment. The point is not to pollute. This is what we need to succeed.

5. CAPTAINS, SKIPPERS, LET’S COOPERATE…

Dear Fishermen and Colleagues,

Please heed our words, we have suggestions for you. For the protection of seas and conservation of fisheries resources, inform your crew of catch prohibitions. Describe and show the species which need protection. Read and explain the fisheries resources circular and law number 1380.

Teach your crew the idea of keeping the sea clean, advise them not to pollute their living source, to caution those that pollute and to complain to related resources. Mind the coordinates for Turbot fisheries and do not enter in fisheries areas of neighboring countries.

Caution the managers of fisheries cooperatives and unions. Report those who catch fish smaller than allowed and those selling these fishes. Answer straightforwardly the statistical question about your fisheries activities.

Report those who sell fish to other places than wholesale fish market and declared locations.

Do not catch banned fish. All establishment and institutions that work on responsible fisheries principles are ready to help you if you have suggestions, requests or complaints. Let’s cooperate.

Here are the organizations and institutions that can help you:

Sahil Güvenlik Komutanlığı (Command post of Coast Guard) (158)

County and Commune Directorates related to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs

Turkish Marine Research Foundation (tel: 0216-4240772) – Please inform us if you see some unknown species and stranded dolphins. Also report us those who catch or sell sturgeons, use illegal trawls, pollute sea, drop dynamites in sea and inland waters, illegally remove sand from sea, discharge bilge, leak oil, dive in Monk Seal caves and fish with spear gun.

WWF Turkey

Local Fisheries Cooperatives and Unions

Sualtı Araştırmaları Derneği (Association of Underwater Research)

Ministry of Environment and Forestry

Deniz Temiz Derneği (Turkish Marine Environment Protection Association)

Other local associations and foundations

It is your decision whether you want to keep fish in sea for your children or show them these fish only from coloring books and let them eat tasteless imported fish. It is time to work all together.