Opinion

Increasing Export of Turkish Aquaculture to China and Russia

Published Nov 21, 2019
Turkish aquaculture exports are increasing. The government has set ambitious export goals and has recently concluded a deal with China for the export of trout and tuna. The government is also in talks with the Russian government to increase seafood exports.

Turkish aquaculture is booming. Although Turkey’s fish consumption per capita is the lowest in Europe - 5 kg per person versus the European average of 24 kg - aquaculture grew by 13% in 2018. Exports totaled USD 958 million, the equivalent of 177.7K tons. Turkish exports mainly go to European countries such as the Netherlands and Italy, but recently a trade deal with China has opened up the Chinese seafood market as well.

Growth in Turkish Aquaculture Industry

Turkey both harvests fish through aquaculture and fishing practices. Turkey has a lot of inland fisheries and fish farms, as well as fisheries and farms on the sea. The Turkish government has focused a lot on the Turkish food industry, trying to improve both the agriculture and aquaculture sectors. The champions of the Turkish aquaculture sector are sea bass, sea bream, and trout. Turkey is the main producer in Europe for most of these species. All three species are both farmed and caught wild in Turkey.

The annual yields from aquaculture total at approximately 322K tons, but the government wants to expand this to 600K tons by 2023. To this end, the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will make the sector more attractive for investments, will prepare more permits for fish farmers, and aims to increase product diversity. It is also actively seeking out new areas for fish farms, both inland and at sea. Most interestingly, it is seeking to establish new farms in areas where fisheries are not very active, or where there has been a decreasing catch. The idea behind this is that it will entice fishermen engaged with wild catching to explore more productive spots.

Increasing Trout, Bream, and Bass Exports to China and Russia

Currently, most of Turkey’s seafood exports go to Europe, Japan, and Korea, but the government is working hard on increasing exports to over 100 countries. Its current focus is on increasing exports to China. The two countries signed a trade deal in September 2019, which allows Turkish tuna and trout to be exported to China. These products amounted to USD 80 million of Turkey’s total seafood exports in 2018. China imported USD 250 million of trout and tuna in the same period, so Turkish exporters and the government see huge potential in exporting these products.

Turkey has been exporting fish to Russia for a while already but focuses its exports to Russia exclusively on trout, bream, and bass. These exports accounted for approximately USD 45 million in 2018, but currently, there are talks underway to increase this number. The potential deal with Russia and the recent deal with China bring Turkey closer to the ambitious goal set by the government: increasing the seafood exports to USD 1 billion. Recently, the government has even mentioned it is planning to increase the export target to USD 2 billion after 2023.

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