Following five days of intensive Greenpeace pressure, the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture decided to answer the call for healthy oceans. Yesterday, the ministry published an announcement on its web site that they will discuss legal catch sizes of commercial fish during the scientific committee’s meeting in June, which will provide the advice on which the eventual policy will be based.

This move from the Ministry of Agriculture comes after Greenpeace’s red telephone has been present in central Istanbul. The Greenpeace red telephone helped connect over 2,000 individuals with the ministry to tell them that catching small fish will mean no fish in the very near future. Too many small, juvenile fish are caught with adult fish, meaning fish populations cannot recover from aggressive fishing. If this continues, there will be no fish: no food, no fishing industry- everyone loses. Since the “How Many cm Are You?” campaign launched in November, more than 270.000 people have signed the petition demanding policies to keep juvenile fish in our oceans and out of fishing nets. We’ve educated people about the proper size of fish (yes, in centimeters) and regularly told the ministry about our campaign, and in recent days it’s become an ever-changing process. First the ministry tried to direct the calls which overwhelmed the phone system. They tried to deny that they were aware of Greenpeace’s campaign. Finally, it became clear that this issue could not be ignored and our work with local communities, scientists, fisheries experts and eventually, the ministry knew they could no longer ignore the issue and placed it on the very next meeting’s agenda.

View a slideshow of images from the campaign here

While we are no longer making phone calls to the Ministry, we are still encouraging Turks to share their thoughts and ideas on our campaign web site and will push the government to go even further and close important fish breeding grounds to fishing and create more marine reserves in Turkish waters.

This is an important step forward in our work to protect all of our oceans and could not have happened without our supporters’ help. So thank you to everyone in Turkey who has gotten us this far and to all the people who are going to continue our fight to defend our oceans.

 

Steve Smith works in Greenpeace International’s communications department, based in Amsterdam.