Fishing is a time-honored Istanbul tradition. But to catch and sell fish, one must have a license nowadays. That doesn’t stop some from illegally trawling for fish in the Bosphorus, or the two seas that sandwich Istanbul. Today, one such trawler nearly took the life of a man who’s been campaigning against illegal fishing for years.
The attacker, reportedly from a trawling gang, came to a teahouse where Aslan was sitting and asked him to come outside so they could talk. They argued for a few minutes about Aslan’s opposition to trawling. Then the man pulled a gun on him, and fired — aiming to kill.
Two months previously, Aslan, who is head of a union of fishery associations, issued a report effectively declaring war against illegal fishermen. After this opening shot, he began to receive threats from some members of a trawling gang, culminating in the shooting at the teahouse.
The marine police and the coastguard, meanwhile, seem to have done little to help solve the proliferation of illegal fishermen in Istanbul’s waterways and seas.
Defne Koryürek is an environmental activist who is prominent in Turkey’s Slow Food movement as well as being known for helping fight against illegal fishing. According to facts she shared with Turkish media, the number of illegal trawlers in Istanbul has increased by 600 percent over the past year, from 50 to 300.
Koryürek has called on Turkey’s Interior Ministry to help solve the problem, which she says amounts to “banditry”. Unfortunately, as the trawlers become wealthier, they’ll only find it easier to pay fines or bribes to the officials who catch them.
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Image via Yerel Gundem