Population: 80.8 million
(2017, Turkish Statistical Institute)
GDP: €754 billion
(2017, Turkish Statistical Insitute)
GDP/capita: €8 849
(2017, Turkish Statistical Institute)
Overview of the Turkish fisheries and aquaculture sector
Turkey is surrounded by four seas which give the country a rich and diverse coastline that supports many economic activities. With a total available water surface area of 26 million ha and rivers with a total length of 177 714 km, Turkey has all the natural resources necessary for fish production.
Marine capture fishery makes up about 91% of total capture and amounted to 322 173 tonnes in 2017 from all the seas surrounding the country; the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Marmara. The marine fleet consists of 14 479 vessels and this sector employs 31 842 persons. The Black Sea is responsible for a little under three quarters of the annual catches.
Anchovy, pilchard, sprat, and horse mackerel are the main small pelagic species in terms of volume, which amounted to 85% of the marine catch in 2017. Caught primarily in the Black Sea, they are used almost exclusively in the production of fishmeal and fish oil, two of the main ingredients in fish feed. Fish caught for human consumption comes from all the seas surrounding Turkey, although the Black Sea catches are significantly higher than those from the other three regions, the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea, and the Sea of Marmara.
Inland capture fisheries produced about 32 145 tonnes in 2017, continuing the decreasing trend in catches seen over the past several years. The most important species are inci kefali (tarek) and gibel carp, which together make up half the production. Other important species are sand smelt, mullets common carp and land snail.
Technological advances, combined with governmental strategy, and scientific know–how has facilitated an increase in national aquaculture output in recent decades. The rapid growth of the aquaculture sector has made Turkey the leading producer in the Mediterranean Sea. Currently, it produces large quantities of European sea bass, gilthead sea bream, and rainbow trout. Turkish production extends also to the Black Sea, where sea-raised trout and European sea bass are cultivated. One of the typical characteristics of aquaculture in Turkey is that it is mostly based on intensive systems producing carnivorous fish species.
The total production of the Turkish aquaculture sector reached 276 502 tonnes in 2017, with freshwater aquaculture production reaching 104 010 tonnes, while marine aquaculture produced 172 492 tonnes. The main freshwater specie is trout, which is almost all of total production. The main marine species are sea bass and sea bream with total production of 160 061 tonnes. This represents 93% of the total marine aquaculture production.
In 2016, Turkey was the largest producer of farmed sea bass in the world and also the largest exporter of sea bass products globally. Nearly all the extra-EU imports of sea bass come from Turkey. Turkey is also one of the largest producers of sea bream in the world.
Sea bass, together with sea bream culture is carried out in provinces located on the coast of the Aegean Sea. Turkey also has a tuna ranching industry which catches and fattens tuna for the Japanese market. Whereas marine aquaculture production mostly depends on cage farming, freshwater production is carried out mostly in land-based units extracting water from rivers, but also in cages set in lakes and hydro-electric or irrigation dams.
The number of vertically integrated groups operating their own hatcheries, fish feed plants, fish farms, and processing and packaging facilities is increasing constantly. In 2017, there were 1 881 inland and 427 marine aquaculture facilities employing 10 500 persons.
Processing and trade
Currently there are 210 processing enterprises, employing approximately 6 500 persons (2017). Turkey are approved for export to the EU for fishery products. Processed fish is mainly going to the export markets as the domestic market prefers fresh fish. Farmed sea bass and sea bream are exported chilled or frozen as gutted or filleted, in vacuum-sealed trays; more recently, they have also been exported as frozen ready meals. Farmed rainbow trout is filleted and smoked for western markets.
Export of seafood includes crustaceans, molluscs, and cephalopods, which may be frozen, preserved, or chilled. The EU is Turkey’s primary market for fish and seafood exports, but exports are increasing to Russia, the Middle East and even Asia and the US. The total exports of fisheries and aquaculture products increased to 156 681 tonnes in 2017.
With nearly 100 444 tonnes of fish imported to Turkey in 2017, Norway is by far the main supplier for imports of fisheries and aquaculture products. Turkish imports include frozen mackerel and other small pelagic fish, salmonids, and cephalopods. Imports of fishmeal and fish oil are also significant due to the large demand for fish feed.
Although, it is surrounded by seas, fish consumption in Turkey is low and is only half of the world average and one third of the average consumption in the EU. Trout and sea bass are popular in the Mediterranean region. In eastern Turkey, anchovy is the preferred fish, followed by trout. The Marmara and Aegean regions are the leading areas as far as level and variety of fish consumption are concerned.
Turkish consumers have historically preferred meat products, and fish consumption differs between the regions. Whereas the fish consumption is little in inland areas, it is more predominant in coastal areas. Per capita consumption in 2017 was 5.5 kg, this was a slight increase from 2016, however, there has been a general negative trend in consumption with a decrease of 2.5 kg or 32% since the turn of the century.
Conflicts between the marine aquaculture sector and other users of the coast, such as the tourism industry, were reduced significantly when fish farms were reallocated offshore. This move contributed to a growth in aquaculture production, which is projected to increase further to 600 000 tonnes, including trout, in 2023 with the help of freshwater cage production, the recent construction of dams and designation of the new marine aquaculture areas.
Well-developed research infrastructure, comprising a network of faculties, departments, and laboratories at universities with links to the industry, provide a wealth of "know-how" as well as a supply of educated employees to promote the growth of the sector. New sectors like mussel and shrimp farming, which the government is keen to develop, will also play a role in the overall expansion in production. Certification to standards such as Global G.A.P, Friend of the Sea, and ISO 14000 are becoming widespread.
Aquaculture farms and fishing vessels require improvements to infrastructure in order to protect product quality and prevent post-harvest losses. Investments in fishing are needed to improve the economic performance of the sector.
Below you can find the "Turkish Fisheries 2017" publication produced by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock. For more information, you can visit the link below.
A translation into Turkish of selected articles from the EUROFISH Magazine is available on the EUROFISH Magazine website
Useful Links for Turkey