Population: 78.74 million
GDP: €720 billion
(2015, Turkish Statistical Insitute)
(2015, 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 surface area of 26 million ha and rivers with a total length of 177,714 km, Turkey is a country suitable for fish production due to its richness in water resources.
Capture marine fishery makes up about 70% of total production. Capture marine fisheries in Turkey employed some 31,350 people and amounted to 397,731 tonnes in 2015 from all the seas surrounding the country: the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black seas, and the Sea of Marmara. The marine fleet consists of 15,680 vessels. The Black Sea is responsible for approximately three-fourths of the annual catches.
The main species in terms of volume are small pelagics, anchovies, pilchards, sprats, and horse mackerel, which amounted to 73 % of the catch in 2015. 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 for human consumption, on the other hand, come from all the seas surrounding Turkey, though the Black Sea catches are significantly higher than those from the other three.
Inland capture fisheries produced about 34,176 tonnes in 2015. The most important species are inci kefali (Tarek) and carp, with their share making up half of production. The other important species are sand smelt, Gibel carp and land snail.
Technological advances, combined with governmental strategy, scientific "know–how", and high quality of production has facilitated an increase of the national aquaculture output in recent decades. The rapid growth of the aquaculture sector has made Turkey the leading producer in the Mediterranean. Currently, it produces large quantities of European seabass, gilthead seabream, and rainbow trout. Turkish production extends also to the Black Sea, where sea-raised trout and European seabass are cultivated.
The total output of the Turkish aquaculture sector reached 240,334 tonnes in 2015. With 75,164 tonnes produced in 2015, Turkey is currently the largest producing and exporting country of seabass in the world. At present, Turkey is also the second largest producing country of seabream in the world.
One of the typical characteristics of aquaculture in Turkey is that it is mostly based on intensive and semi-intensive systems of carnivorous fish species. One of the main branches of the national aquaculture sector is freshwater rainbow trout farming, which exists in almost each province of Turkey. In 2015, production of trout was 108,038 tonnes.
Seabass and seabream culture are carried out in provinces located on the coast of the Aegean Sea. Turkish companies are involved in tuna culture, which started accelerating and becoming widespread among European countries after 2000. 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. The main species farmed in 2015 were seabass (75,164 tonnes) and seabream (51,844 tonnes). The Black Sea is the site for a modest production of sea-raised trout (6,872 tonnes). There is also a large and growing production of freshwater rainbow trout (101,166 tonnes) in the interior of the country. In 2014, there were 2,392 inland and 520 marine aquaculture facilities. Each year approximately 60–70 new facilities commence operation. In Turkey, jobs are provided to approximately 25,000 people in the aquaculture industry.
Processing and trade
Currently there are 102 processing enterprises in Turkey that have been approved for export to the EU for fishery products. Processed fish is aimed mainly at export markets as preferences on the domestic market are primarily for fresh fish. Farmed seabass and seabream are exported chilled or frozen as gutted and 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 the Far East and the US. Turkey also has a tuna ranching industry which catches and fattens tuna for the Japanese market. The total exports of fisheries and aquaculture products doubled to 130,701 tonnes in 2016.
With nearly 66,610 tonnes of fish exported to Turkey in 2016, Norway is by far the main supplier country 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 requirement for fish feed, of which fishmeal and fish oil are the main components.
Although it is surrounded by seas, fish consumption in Turkey equals only half of the world average and one third of the average consumption in the EU. Trout and seabass are popular in the Mediterranean region. In eastern Turkey, anchovy is the most preferred consumed 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. About 70 % of fish production is consumed in the Black Sea region. The eastern and south eastern Anatolian regions consume 2 % of total consumed fish. Coastal areas have higher consumption and a greater variety of choice. In inland areas, including central and south eastern Anatolia, both the level of consumption and the variety of fish consumed are decreasing. In recent years, the national average apparent consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products followed a downward trend, reaching 6.2 kg per capita in 2015. Based on calculations of the supply balance and the total apparent consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products, the average annual apparent per capita consumption decreased 27 % in 2010–2014, due to increased exports.
Conflicts between the marine aquaculture sector and other users of the coast, such as the tourism industry, were reduced significantly about eight years ago when fish farms were reallocated offshore. This move contributed to a growth in production, which is projected to increase further to 500,000 tonnes, including trout, in 2023 with the help of freshwater cage production and the recent construction of dams.
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, which supply raw materials to the fishery industry, need to be trained, and their infrastructure needs to be improved in order protect product quality and prevent post-harvest losses. Investments in fishing are needed to improve economic performance of the sector.
Useful Links for Turkey
- Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock
- Aegean Exporters Associations
- Turkish Seafood Promotion Committee