- Capital: Ankara
- Population: 86.7 million (2017, Turkish Statistical Institute)
- GDP: €862 billion (2022, Eurostat)
- GDP/capita: €10 150 (2022, Eurostat)
Overview of the Turkish fisheries and aquaculture sector
Türkiye 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, Türkiye has all the natural resources necessary for fish production.
In 2022, the total marine catch from the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Marmara amounted to 301 747 tonnes, of which finfish accounted for as much as 84%. The split between species for human consumption and for industrial use was about 70:30. Atlantic bonito was the major species caught for human consumption with over 30% of the total volumes of finfish for human consumption, followed by anchovy (27%), and sardine (10%). Fish catches for industrial use were shared between anchovy with an 88% share and sprats with 12% of the total volumes. The Black Sea is responsible for a little under three quarters of the annual catches.
Fish caught for human consumption comes from all the seas surrounding Türkiye, although the Black Sea catches are significantly higher than those from the other three maritime regions. Fish for industrial use comes primarily from the Black Sea. According to the national statistics, the marine fleet in 2022 comprised 14 064 vessels, of which 90% are small coastal vessels less than 12m in length. The sector employed 34 684 persons, which include 13 631 fishermen themselves; 1 150 partners (of which 387 are paid for their work); 3 027 family members (422 paid); 6 727 crew with payment; 10 318 crew working in exchange for the share of fish caught; 101 marked as “other”.
Catches of molluscs and crustaceans were destined mainly for human consumption, while catches for industrial use were marginal. Striped venus was the major species with 60% of the volumes, followed by rapa whelk (17%), and deepwater rose prawn (7%).
Inland capture fisheries produced about 33 256 tonnes in 2022, continuing the decreasing trend in catches seen over the past several years. The most important species are tarek (Alburnus tarichi) and Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio), which together make up half the production. Other important species are sand smelt (Atherina presbyter), mullets, and common carp.
The total production of the Turkish aquaculture sector reached 514 805 tonnes in 2022, with freshwater aquaculture production reaching 146 063 tonnes, while marine aquaculture produced 368 742 tonnes. The main freshwater species is trout, which is almost all of the total freshwater production. The main marine species are sea bass and sea bream with total production of 309 071 tonnes, which represents 84% of the total marine aquaculture production. The Mediterranean mussel is a new and promising species for the sector. The commercial production was first registered in 2015 with 3 tonnes only, and in 2022 it amounted to 5 469 tonnes. The volumes are still small, but they are expected to increase as the government encourages production.
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 Türkiye 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 Türkiye is that it is mostly based on intensive systems producing carnivorous fish species.
Türkiye is one of the largest producers of farmed sea bass in the world, the largest exporter of sea bass products globally, and one of the largest producers of sea bream in the world. Nearly all the extra-EU imports of sea bass, and most of extra-EU sea bream come from Türkiye.
Sea bass, together with sea bream culture is carried out in provinces located on the coast of the Aegean Sea. Türkiye 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 steadily.
The export volume increased by 5.4% compared to the previous year, reaching 251 415 tonnes, and its value increased by 20%, reaching €1.57 billion. Aquatic products for human consumption produced in Türkiye in 2022 were exported to 103 countries around the world. About two thirds the seafood export volumes were supplied to the EU countries with Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain being the major destinations. A single country where the most seafood exports supplied is Russia with 18% of the total volume, and 76% of this is trout exports. Trout is the most exported species, followed by sea bream and sea bass.
Imports of fish and seafood products for human consumption in 2022 amounted to 115 189 tonnes worth €297.6 million. Morocco was the largest exporter with about 36% share of the total volumes, supplying mainly mackerel and sardines. Norway was the second largest source with a 21% share, supplying mainly mackerel and salmon. Imports of fishmeal and fish oil from Norway are also significant due to the large demand for fish feed, though the volume and value are not included in the data above.
Although, it is surrounded by seas, fish consumption in Türkiye is low and is only half of the world average and one third of the average consumption in Europe. Trout and sea bass are popular in the Mediterranean region. In eastern Türkiye, anchovy is the preferred fish, followed by trout. The Marmara and Aegean regions are the leading areas as far as volume and variety of fish consumption are concerned.
Turkish consumers have historically preferred non-fish meat products, and fish consumption differs between the regions. Whereas fish consumption is low in inland areas, it is more predominant in coastal areas. Fish consumption is influenced not only by the local habits, but also by the availability and price of the products, and by consumer purchasing power. Per capita consumption in 2022 was estimated at 7.3 kg – or 12% increase compared to the previous year.
Conflicts between the marine aquaculture sector and other users of the coast, such as the tourism industry, were reduced significantly when fish farms were relocated offshore. This move contributed to a growth in aquaculture production, which by 2023 is projected to increase further to 600 000 tonnes, including trout, 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.
A translation into Turkish of selected articles from the EUROFISH Magazine is available on the Ministry website.
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