A fish farm in neighboring Greece. Photograph by Rod Heikell via Tell-Tales
Travelers exploring the Aegean and Mediterranean regions by boat in recent years have noticed a change in the sea's once-sparkling and peaceful bays and inlets--and not a change for the better. In some areas, the water would turn a cloudy green, and even emit an awful smell. The culprit, they learned, was fish farms.One couple described their experience in Güllük Bay on the Turkish coast in an email to sailing blogger Rod Heikell:
We were taken by surprise by the large increase in the number of fish farms in this bay from last year to this.... the effect these farms appear to have had on the water quality seems to be substantial. Last year for example the water in the bay at Iassos was clear and so too was the water in Paradise Bay. This year much of the water is very cloudy and unpleasant.... We are all in favour of sustainable fish farming as locals have to make a living and produce food but what is going on in the Bay of Güllük seems rather excessive."
The couple asked Heikell if the Turkish authorities were doing anything about the problem. Two years later, they have, at least to a degree, shutting down 29 fish farms in the Muğla province, which includes Güllük Bay, following reports of pollution. The farms in question had not abided by orders to move to new locations, a proposal of somewhat dubious environmental merit in the first place.
Pollution from the fish farms has been driving visitors away, a major problem in a region dependent on tourism. "The bay area has turned into small cesspools after wire cages, cans, and fishing nets have been discarded in the sea," the Turkish Daily News reported last year. "Today, because of this pollution, yachts from the Blue Cruise line have to turn back before entering the bays and tourists no longer swim in the bays." Local fishermen suffered the effects of the murky and unhealthy waters too, and the fish farms themselves seemed to be faring little better, with 4 million fish deaths recorded at the beginning of 2008.
In 2006, protesters in nearby Didim marched against fish farms, halting plans for a new facility off the coast.
More about fish farms and aquaculture:
How to Choose Eco Friendly Farm Raised Fish
Aquaculture Industry Looks to Sustainable Feeds
Two-Headed Fish Spark Concern Over Pesticide Contamination
Ocean Fish Farms Won’t Save Wild Fish & Can Easily Destroy Them
Animation Shows How Sea Lice From Fish Farms Can Reduce Wild Population
Worldwatch Institute Reports that Sustainable Fish Farms Can Feed the World
30000 Farmed Salmon Make A Break For It
Discussing the Merits of Aquaculture
Deep Sea Fish Farm: Deep Trouble?