Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fishy business in Istanbul

Back in the 1950s, it wasn’t unusual for fishermen plying the waters off Istanbul to land tuna weighing hundreds of pounds, or to have one of the massive fish leap out of the sea and over the prow of their boat. Dolphins cavorted alongside fishing vessels that hauled in lobster, oysters, razor clams, four kinds of crab and eight varieties of mussels.

“Fishermen in their 70s and 80s tell stories depicting Istanbul like an island in the middle of the ocean. It’s as if we’ve moved to a totally different place since then,” says Defne Koryürek, the founder of Slow Food Istanbul, which has organized an annual holiday to draw attention to the city’s rapidly depleting waterways and to try and reverse the tide.

Celebrated each October with fishing competitions, film screenings, children’s art activities, talks, and special meals, the holiday is named after one of Istanbul’s favorite fish, the fatty, flavorful — but now endangered — lüfer (bluefish)...

I've been following the issue of overfishing in Istanbul and the fight to save the lüfer for a few years now, previously covering the start of the campaign to increase the minimum catch size; the inaugural Lüfer Bayramı; and the dangerous world of illegal fishing for Treehugger.com.

Now you can read the rest of my latest article on this subject, "Istanbul Chefs Band Together To Save Their Favorite Fish," on Zester Daily.

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