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Fish farms face new regulations, but problems remain

TURKEY - The winding road along Turkeys Aegean coast sometimes gets narrow or bumpy, but the beautiful scenery remains, despite the fact that in certain places a stench coming from fish farms only a few meters away assaults the nose.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry decided to impose new regulations on fish farms to solve the problem. These farms have been reason for repeated demonstrations by environmental activists, parliamentary hearings, complaints from the tourism sector and even allegations that blood seeping from the farms attracts sharks to the coast. However, these new regulations by the ministry not only fail to satisfy the environmental activists but are angering the fish farm owners.

Last Wednesday saw the start of the new regulations stipulating that fish farms must be at least 1,100 meters (0.6 sea miles) from the coast and that the depth of the abyssal plain must be 30 meters. An extra measure specifies that there should be a stream speed of no less than 0.1 meter/second for a fish farm to be established in an area. The regulations also state that archeological sites shall be free of fish farms and that fish farms must prove they are outside of areas deemed risky for sea pollution, criteria set to protect the sheltered bays in the region.

The new regulations order all fish farms to prove their compliance with these criteria by May 1, 2007. The ministry requires that the farms submit reports about their conditions prepared by universities or by the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). The fish farms must also submit annual reports proving that they are not a threat to the environment.

Despite the new regulations, not even the state ministries can agree on the exact nature of the problems the fish farms pose. The Ministry of Agriculture is the agency responsible for permits and management of fish farms. According to their estimate, there are about 300 fish farms along the coasts of Turkey and these fish farms create no pollution whatsoever. Last year the Minister of Agriculture testified in a parliamentary hearing about the subject and claimed that since fish farms created only organic chum and feces, they were not harmful to the environment.

But Environment Minister Osman Pepe commented on the new regulations last Tuesday in Izmir and said that fish farms in closed bays were causing both serious undersea and local pollution.

Source: Today's Zaman

the Fish Site Editor

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