The end of summer and the return of cooler weather has traditionally signaled the beginning of fishing season in the waters around Istanbul and the rest of Turkey. These days, this time of the year also means the return of controversy and debate over the future of the country's fishing industry and government efforts to make sure that industry even has a future.
As reported in a previous Kebabistan blog post and in a subsequent Eursianet article, the previous fishing season turned violent after the government imposed a minimum catch-size limitation on certain types of fish. Following the imposition of the new regulations, the head of an Istanbul fisheries union that supported the change was shot in the face last January by a gunman who challenged him about it (the union leader survived, although he did lose an eye).
This year, the Turkish government is proposing more new regulations designed to prevent overfishing, most significantly forbidding dragnet fishing in waters that are less than 24-meters(78 feet) deep and completely banning the use of dragnets in certain sensitive areas, such as the waters around the Princes' Islands near Istanbul.
Like with the size limitations, these new regulations are leading to dissent from some fishermen and collectives representing them, with some threatening to go on strike, which could lead to increased fish prices in Turkey. But as one Greenpeace official points out to Bianet, the 24-meter depth limitation on dragnet fishing is still far more lenient than the 50-meter (164 feet) limit that's the standard in European Union. For now, what all sides of the debate appear to agree on is that there are less and less fish to be caught in Turkish waters.