Turkey is targeting a major increase in fisheries production over the next decade, reports David Hayes.
This is part of government plans to promote economic and social development in coastal and inland areas by supporting growth of freshwater and marine aquaculture fisheries to create employment and raise family incomes in less developed coastal and inland rural regions.
Expanding the nation’s fisheries industry forms part of the government’s highly ambitious Vision 2023 economic and social development programme which calls on Turkey to become one of the world’s Top Ten economies with a population of around 82 million people and a GDP of about US$2 trillion a year.
As part of its Vision 2023 targets for the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector, the government is aiming for Turkey to be the largest fisheries producer in the European Union of which Turkey intends to become a member by the next decade.
Fisheries production is targeted to grow by over 65% over the next 10 years to reach over 1 million tons annually compared with around 600,000 tons a year at present. Both marine and freshwater fisheries production is due to increase in coming years backed by government support and growing private investment in fisheries development schemes.
Most increase in fisheries production is expected to occur in the aquaculture sector which is planned to grow in size to produce about 600,000 tons annually, a threefold increase compared with current yearly output of 200,000 tons.
Increased fishery production is expected to lead to an improvement in the typical Turkish diet of which animal meat currently forms the major source of protein, particularly in inland regions. The government’s short term target calls for fish consumption among the estimated 80 million population to reach 10.3kg per capita in 2013, still well below the level in many other developing coastal countries.
While domestic per capita fish consumption is expected to increase as more farmed fish supplies become available in future, an important share of Turkey’s rising aquaculture output will be exported. EU countries are expected to provide an important market, though Turkey also has important trade links with Balkan countries and the Middle East.
The Vision 2023 fisheries target calls for farmed exports to grow from US$500 million in value in 2010 to reach $1 billion in 2023 as production of sea bream, sea bass and other species, including farmed-turbot, continue to grow.
Turkey has considerable potential to expand its fishery output in future. The country’s coastline stretches 8,330km, over half of which lies in the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Sea while the country’s northern coastline forms the southern shore of the Black Sea.
Boasting a total marine area covering about 24.6 million hectares and inland freshwater surface area of around 1 million hectares, Turkey’s combined sea and inland water surface area totals some 25.6 million hectares.
According to government figures, total fisheries production in 2010 reached 653,000 tons of which aquaculture output, both marine and freshwater, accounted for around 26% of total fisheries production in tonnage terms but 52% by value due to fish farmers focusing on more expensive fish species.
Wild capture marine fisheries production totalled 366,000 tons in 2010 while output of other marine products totalled 41,000 tons that year.
Production of fishery and other species by mariculture is developing quickly with the result that marine aquaculture output reached 89,000 tons in 2010.
Inland aquaculture fisheries production stood at 78,000 tons in 2010 with the result that total marine and inland aquaculture in 2010 reached 167,000 tons and since then has risen to about 200,000 tons per year.
Inland freshwater capture fisheries remain the smallest fishery sector at present with output amounting to just over 30,000 tons in 2010.
Trout are the main species produced by inland fish farms at present accounting for about 98% of all inland aquaculture output in 2010 while carp is the other freshwater species.
Sea bass is the major species produced by Turkish marine fish farmers with production standing at 51,000 tons in 2010. Sea bream is the second most important species for mariculturalists with output topping 28,000 tons in 2010.
The other sea farmed species is sea trout with production reaching 7,000 tons in 2010.
Combined figures for marine and freshwater aquaculture output show that trout is Turkey’s major aquaculture species with farmed sea trout and freshwater trout production adding up to 85,000 tons, equivalent to 51% of total farmed fish output in 2010.
Sea bass is the second most important farmed species with production of 51,000 tons equivalent to 31% of Turkish aquaculture output in 2010.
Sea bream is the other important farmed species with total production of 28,000 in 2010 equivalent to 17% of farmed fish output in 2010.
According to government statistics, exports of sea bass and sea bream have grown to a point where Turkey now holds a 25% share of the European sea bream and sea bass market.
Backed by government subsidies, affordable credit and available surface water area to establish marine and inland fish farms, Turkey’s aquaculture sector has developed quickly during the past decade and today has a total production capacity exceeding 300,000 tons a year.
Vision 2023 fishery production targets call for the aquaculture industry to double in capacity over the next 10 years, while output is due to expand more than threefold to reach 600,000 tons annually.
Currently the marine and inland fish farm sectors are balanced in terms of production capacity with both having the capacity to produce about 160,000 tons of fish each annually. Where the two sectors differ is in fish farm size, as inland fish farms are far smaller than marine fish farms which number about 350 today, while the number of inland fish farms in business exceeds 1,600 fish farms.
Staff recruitment has been rapid to meet labour requirements of new fish farms being set up across Turkey. According to government figures the number of workers employed by fish farms now totals over 25,000, with the number expected to continue rising as Turkey, which has the world’s third fastest growing aquaculture sector, aims for further long term expansion.
Meanwhile, the Black Sea continues to be the major source of Turkey’s marine capture fisheries with around 80% of fisheries revenues currently generated from fishing activities in the Black Sea, according to the General Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture under the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock
Turkish territorial waters represent 42% of the entire maritime jurisdiction area of the Black Sea due to the Turkey’s coastline being the longest among all other littoral states of the Black Sea.
Turkey’s Fisheries Law 1380 sets strict provisions for the management of fisheries activities including mariculture in the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean with the implementing regulation on fisheries setting rules for fishing licenses, fishing gears, provisions for fishing grounds and other areas and other rules for inspection and control, prohibition of explosive and hazardous substances for fishing, and other controls.
Notification 3/1 regulating commercial fishing is the main legislative instrument setting rules governing technical measures for fishing including fishing gear, fishing season, fishing and protected areas, limits on fish landing size and species fishing controls.
Turkey’s Black Sea fishing fleet consists of slightly over one third of the country’s licensed fishing vessels which generally are larger in size than fishing boats active in the eastern Mediterranean waters.
The number of fishing vessels in use continues to decline with the entire Turkish national fleet consisting of 14,300 licensed vessels at the start of 2012, some 3,350 vessels or 19% fewer than in 2007.
Of the total 14,300 licensed vessels, 4,993 or 35% were involved in fishing activities in Black Sea waters at the start of last year compared with 6,700 fishing boats accounting for 38% of the total Turkish fishing fleet in 2007.
All vessels over 15 metres in length are required to record and keep a logbook, and have to be fitted with an Automated Identification System..
According to government figures 281 Turkish licensed trawlers, 195 purse-seiners and 189 purse-seiner trawlers operate in the Black Sea while some 4,216 or 82% of Turkish-licensed fishing vessels active in the Black Sea are artisanal fishing boats.
Anchovies are the main species caught by the Turkish Black Sea fishing fleet followed by sprats, sardines and horse mackerel, though the total catch for each species has varied considerably in recent years.
According to the General Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Turkey’s total Black Sea marine fishery catch was 401,000 tons in 2011, down 17% from 484,000 tons in 2007, due to the decline in the anchovy catch.
In 2011 the Turkish Black Sea fleet caught 228,000 tons of anchovies, almost unchanged from the previous year; but down 15% from the 270,000 tons landed in 2007.
Turkey’s anchovy catch has fallen sharply since 1989 due to several factors including overfishing and heavy predation by Mnemiopsis leidyi on anchovy fish eggs and larvae. The arrival of Mnemiopsis leidyi is due to its accidental introduction to the Black Sea in ballast tanks of ships.
Special regulations are in place to help anchovy stocks recover. Anchovy fishing now is banned from 15 April to 31 August and during the fishing season is permitted only from 16.00 to 08.00. In addition, the minimum landing size for anchovies is 9cm.
Landings of sprats have grown over the same period, however, partly offsetting the fall in the anchovy catch in tonnage terms though not in value.
Some 87,000 tons of sprats were landed in Turkey’s Black Sea fishing ports in 2011, an increase of almost 50% compared with 2010, and representing a 12-fold increase compared with 7,300 tons in 2006.
Also improving is Turkey’s Black Sea sardine catch which reached 35,000 tons in 2011, up 25% on the previous year’s catch and representing an increase more than double the 15,600 tons landed in 2006.
Also growing, though on a smaller scale is production of Atlantic bonito which is growing each year and reached 10,000 tons in 2011, an increase of about 67% compared with 6,000 tons produced in 2007, but down considerably compared with the 2006 catch of almost 30,000 tons.
Meanwhile, other protected species in the Black Sea are baby clams, turbot, shark and dolphins.
In addition to the annual baby clam production quota system that Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock operates, baby clam harvesting is banned in waters shallower than 5 metres, and is prohibited between 1 May to 31 August each year.
Wild turbot stocks have dropped substantially in the Black Sea due to overfishing with the result that turbot retail prices have risen, putting increased pressure on remaining stocks. Some 166 tons of turbot were produced in the Black Sea in 2011, less than one quarter of the 769 tons produced in 2007.
In a bid to increase turbot production, the ministry has given three private aquaculture companies 1,000 tons each of turbot fry to farm and sell to the domestic market.
To protect declining wild stocks, turbot fishing is prohibited from 15 April to 15 June. In addition the minimum mesh size for nets used to catch turbot is 400mm while the minimum turbot landing size is 45cm in length.
Fishing for dolphins and shark is completed banned in Turkey’s Black Sea waters.
Enforcement of fishing regulations to protect marine stocks has been stepped up in recent years. According to Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock statistics, some 89,994 inspections of fishing vessels took place in 2012 with some 823 tons of illegally caught fishery products being seized.
The total number of penalties imposed for contravening fisheries regulations was 7,287 with fishing licenses for 134 vessels being cancelled for contravening fishery legislation.
“Turkey is giving utmost importance to the mechanism and arrangements for cooperation in all fields, particularly those related to fisheries, environment, economy and security in the Black Sea,” said the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock in a published statement.