Tuesday, 07 December 2021 15:18

Turkey: Delegates return to seventh session of CACFish after a year’s delay

EM6 21 News Int Cacfish DSC5927The Central Asian and Caucasus Regional Fisheries and Aquaculture Commission (CACFish) is a regional fisheries management organization that promotes the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture in Central Asia and the Caucasus. The commission currently has five members Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkey, four of which (Armenia was the exception) attended the seventh session of the commission from 11 to 13 October in Istanbul, Turkey, where the secretariat is based. In addition, invited representatives from seven other countries, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Moldova, Mongolia, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan also attended. Eurofish International Organisation and the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution participated as intergovernmental organisations with observer status.

After completing the meeting formalities, the secretary of CACFish, Haydar Fersoy, Senior Fishery and Aquaculture Officer at the FAO Regional Office for Europe, reported on the implementation of the regional work programme for 2016-20, which had disappointed in terms of delivery of activities leading to a weak overall impact of the programme. The main reasons were the disproportionate dependence on external financial resources and the insufficient allocation of funds from the CACFish autonomous budget. In the intersessional period 2021-23 several activities are planned including two regional workshops, one each on inland stock assessments, and on ecosystem-based planning and management of fishery and aquaculture resources, a study on fish genetic resources in Central Asia and the Caucasus and another on gender in the region’s fisheries. The commission members actively supported participation by non-members in the proposed activities to foster regional collaboration and increase visibility of the commission.

Representatives from two of the CACFish member countries, Tajikistan and Turkey, made presentations on the fisheries and aquaculture sector in their countries. Tajikistan is landlocked but has extensive lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Fish production is mainly from the almost 370 fish farms of which about 4% (14 farms) produce trout in raceways. The remainder produce carps and associated species in earthen ponds. Fish are also bred for restocking in the natural environment. In 2021, 7m juvenile carps were released into the reservoirs. To boost farmed fish production the government seeks to introduce the latest equipment and technology as well as develop new fish breeds. It would like also to produce high performance feeds in the country rather than importing them from Europe and Iran. In Turkey, the 14 state-owned hatcheries (12 freshwater and 2 marine) produce some 60m juveniles a year for restocking. Carps, catfish, sturgeon, and turbot are among the fish that are bred for this purpose. Turkey’s eight fisheries research institutions are spread across the country and each of them is responsible for a region. They study the genetic diversity of carp populations in stocked lakes, monitor the restocked juveniles, and have a breeding programme for cold-tolerant carp, among other projects.

As part of the session, the CACFish secretariat organised a visit to the Istanbul fish auction for delegates. The fish starts arriving at the auction at 01.00 in the morning and is auctioned a couple of hours later. Most of the fish is from the Black Sea, but small quantities from the Sea of Marmara, the Aegean, and even the Mediterranean, as well as farmed fish, were on display. The wholesale market at the auction is the biggest in Turkey handling 40-50,000 tonnes of fish a year which is distributed to the rest of the country.

Following the visit to the auction delegates returned to the concluding session of the meeting. The eighth session of CACFish will be hosted by Tajikistan in September or October 2023.