ISTANBUL, Feb 10 (Reuters) - "Balik ekmek! Balik ekmek!" (Fish bread! Fish bread!) yell the vendors tucked under Istanbul's Galata Bridge, dishing out fish sandwiches to hordes of hungry locals and tourists much as they have for decades.
But frozen mackerel from Norway or imports from Morocco are more likely to fill the onion, lettuce and pickle stuffed buns than a fresh catch from the Bosphorus or Marmara Sea.
Once rich fishing grounds in seas and waterways the size of New Zealand, Turkish fish production is in sharp decline, a victim of commercial ambitions and lax regulation.
Over fishing, illegal netting and pollution threaten the industry. Anchovy production, which accounts for around two-thirds of the annual catch, fell by 28 percent in 2012, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.
In a bid to replenish stocks, the government has banned fishing in the summer months when fish reproduce and says it is tightening supervision. But it appears too little, too late.