Gov’t working on increasing fishery consumption: Minister

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The Turkish government has encouraged fish sales with incentives in a bid to increase consumption during the yearly four-and-a-half-month fishing ban that will be lifted by the end of this month, the agriculture minister has said.

The Agriculture and Forestry Ministry introduced a decision in April to release processed and frozen fishery products to the domestic market at around production costs, Bekir Pakdemirli said in a written response to a parliamentary question addressed by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Ömer Fethi Gürer.

Turkey’s fishing season ended on April 15, with a countrywide ban effective until Sept. 1. However, many fishing boats were laid off the stocks a couple of weeks earlier due to the coronavirus pandemic, which hit the country in mid-March, and also because of the less amount of fish in the Black, Aegean, Mediterranean and Marmara seas.

“Under the coordination of our ministry, campaigns to sell seabream and seabass on April 3-7, Turkish salmon on April 15-17, and trout on April 21-22 were carried out. Fish presented to the taste of our people with these campaigns were met with high interest,” said Pakdemirli.

In 2019, fishery products’ average consumption per capita in Turkey rose 2 percent to 6.26 kilograms, he noted.

Average consumption per capita is around 20 kilograms on a global scale, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Producers, consumers and retailers all welcomed the ministry’s initiative, the minister said, adding that, the ministry aims at increasing fishery product consumption per capita and creating alternative marketing channels for producers and sellers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gürer had submitted a written question asking what measures the government had introduced to increase fishery consumption, which also supports public health, in the ongoing period of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wishes for new season

Fishery production in Turkey posted a 33.1 percent increase last year on an annual basis, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) said in June.

The fishery production reached 836,524 tons in 2019, according to TÜİK figures.

“The total fishery production constitutes the fishes caught by 44.8 percent, other sea products by 6.8 percent, inland water products by 3.8 percent, and aquaculture products by 44.6 percent,” it noted.

“Marine production increased by 52 percent and inland water production increased by 4.8 percent compared to the previous year.”

Among sea fishes, anchovy is at the top with 262,544 tons captured, followed by sprat with 38,078 tons, and pilchard with 19,119 tons.

Experts blame pollution, climate change and irresponsible fishing for the decreasing number of fish in the last decades.

Fishermen are hoping to get a bumper catch of anchovy, horse mackerel and baby bonito fish varieties three weeks ahead of the new season.

The price of a baby bonito caught by a handline ranged between 7.5 and 10 Turkish Liras ($1.02 and $1.36) at the fish markets in the eastern Black Sea province of Trabzon yesterday.

At Istanbul’s wholesale fish market hall, one kilogram of seabass was being sold for 28 liras ($3.83), and one kilogram of imported salmon was marketed for 45 liras ($6.16).

Hurriyet Daily News

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