More than half of the Turkish fisheries production takes place in the Black Sea. However, there is significant decrease in the fisheries stocks. There are no more anchovies that were once so much. Yet anchovy is a symbolic species for the Black Sea and a major livelihood source that is featured in folk songs.
Fisheries resources are decreasing in world oceans so 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 is an example of such a case. All these techniques are used to ensure sustainable fisheries.
2. WHICH SPECIES OF FISH IN TERMS OF FISHERIES RESOURCES ARE UNDER PROTECTION IN TURKEY?
In Turkey, restrictions on fisheries resources are supervised by law no. 1380 of fisheries circular.
Here are species for which catch, transport, and sales are completely 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, Seagrasses (Posidonia oceanica, Zostera noltii)
Size (cm) restrictions of species for which catches are limited
These restrictions might change with the circular.
|Carpet shell Clam
Golden grey mullet
Striped venus clam
Striped red mullet
For Anchovy and Horse mackerel, 15% smaller the above size is allowed. For other species, 5 % smaller is allowed.
3. THE SEA HAS BEEN DEPLETED.
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 memories.
These decreases bring together unemployment problems and become social drama…because fishermen and fisheries managers consider only present days and not the future, they did not consider the damage that these decreases in fish populations will cost them. Yet it is not too 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 the 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 once caught somewhat abundantly has also decreased in the last ten years because of overfishing. Some fishermen switched to open sea stocks and those fish declined too. In order to increase turbot stocks, turbot juveniles are produced and released to the 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 get stranded on beaches. 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 living beings.
You might remember the Monk Seals once living in many regions like Akçakoca/Zonguldak. They have mostly disappeared.
Plants living in sea known as seagrass are also under threat. These plants, with their leaves and roots, act as nests and nursery grounds for many marine animals such as fish and crabs. The area surrounding seagrass fields is the living environment 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, the most important fish of the Black Sea travels 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 common use of fish stocks of the Black 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 establish Marine Protected Areas or Marine Parks and close some areas to fisheries activities. For this reason, migration routes of migratory fish and protected species must be designated as Marine Protected Areas. In that way, many marine organisms will be able to reproduce, produce eggs, grow and contribute to currently unprotected areas. The Istanbul Strait and Cide-Doğanyurt regions are determined as primarily suitable areas. There is no doubt that other areas should be protected and all countries should establish 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 the reproduction, feeding, and living of aquatic organisms. For this reason, it is inevitable to stop pollution and contribute to the protection of the 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 the 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 markets and declared locations.
Do not catch banned fish. All establishments 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 unknown species and stranded dolphins. Also, report us those who catch or sell sturgeons, use illegal trawls, pollute the sea, drop dynamites in sea and inland waters, illegally remove sand from the sea, discharge bilge, leak oil, dive in Monk Seal caves and fish with a spear gun.
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 the fish at sea for your children or show them these fish from coloring books. It is time to work together.