Landlocked province exports fish to Europe

A dam in the Central Anatolian province of Yozgat, located far from any seashore, has become the source of tons of atherina, a fish species native to the Mediterranean climate, and is being exported to Europe.

Çekerek Dam, originally built for irrigation, energy and flood control, has seen a surge in atherina population this year due to rising water levels. After a five-year absence, the dam is now teeming with fish, with daily catches reaching between 15 and 20 tons.

Locals who rely on fishing for their livelihood are experiencing a boom.

Dursun Uslu, the president of the Çekerek Fisheries Cooperative, explained the struggle of the past five years due to low water levels and the lack of atherina. This year, however, things are different.

"We have not caught atherina for five years," Uslu said. "But this year, there is an abundance of atherina, and 70 people are working to catch atherina. We catch up to 25 tons of atherina per day. We aim to increase this number even more if we find people to work. We export this fish to European countries. They eat it as chips there. This is a good source of earning a livelihood."

Paşa Koç, another cooperative operator, shared similar sentiments. "We have not been able to get yield from this dam in atherina for five-six years, but this year around, the yield was good due to the high water."

"We employ about 80 people here. We catch fish such as carp and crayfish in this dam according to the season. It is a very productive dam. We are currently fishing for atherina. It is bought for 10 Turkish Liras ($0.31) per kilogram, and we send it to factories. From there, it goes to countries such as France, Norway and Germany. They consume it as a snack there," he said.

The unexpected...

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