Tue, 26 Jan 2021

A fishing boat catches fish in the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 24. (Xinhua)

Pandemic-related pressure on the fishermen in Turkey is eased by government's financial support measures, such as postponing taxes and insurance payments.

by Zeynep Cermen

ISTANBUL, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Turkish authorities have been trying to support with financial incentives fishermen in the country, who have been severely suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both the government and local officials have taken a number of measures, including postponing taxes and insurance payments, as well as providing rent and salary supports.

Authorities in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, have recently cut the service fee to 4 percent to 2 percent and decided not to increase the rents in the upcoming period in Gurpinar Fisheries Wholesale Market, which dominates the country's fish trade.

"The closure of restaurants across the country in line with the measures taken to curb the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant market shrinkage for fishermen, aquaculture producers, and those who engage in the fish trade," Hamdi Arpa, general manager of the Istanbul Management and Renovation company, told Xinhua.

The company is the managing authority of the Gurpinar market.

To heal the damage from the pandemic and protect fishermen and commissioners, Arpa said his institution has been trying to act in line with the suggestions and recommendations of the relevant ministries, Istanbul Governorship, and the provincial pandemic board.

During a recent visit to the fish market, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said his teams would continue to provide all kinds of support to fishermen across the city and help them to overcome the challenges of this period.

Fishermen catch fish in the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 24. (Xinhua)

Mustafa Oruc, a fisherman, owns a small stand in a fish market in the crowded Besiktas district on the European side of Istanbul.

The location is one of the main centers of the city packed with Turkish style taverns or meyhanes where all sorts of fresh seafood used to be served.

"Previously, this square was filled with people. Now we can see very few passersby," Oruc told Xinhua in front of his counter.

"People avoid entering crowded locations over the coronavirus concerns, and do not go out shopping," he said. "Furthermore, the nearby food restaurants, which used to buy products from my stand, closed their doors amid the new restrictions."

As a result, Oruc's sales this year fell to 5,000 Turkish liras (about 630 U.S. dollars) per day on average, down from 12,000 liras last year when a total of 12 employees were trying hard to cope with increasing sales.

After the pandemic erupted, he had to fire seven of his personnel as he couldn't afford their salaries. He recently applied for additional state support.

"Thanks to the assistance, I can now fill up the tank of my van for a month and take care of the needs of my household," he noted.

Meanwhile, the sales of Kenan Balci who owns two fish restaurants in Istanbul were not very much affected by the pandemic conditions.

"People keep consuming seafood as they are good for health. Therefore, I did not apply for additional aids from the government agencies," he told Xinhua, noting that he continues giving delivery services at his restaurants.

"Since the pandemic appeared, the state has postponed our taxes and insurance payments by default," he explained. "And now for those who apply, it provides additional payments for the salaries and other expenses."

Last week, Turkey reimposed partial lockdowns on weekends, closed restaurants and cafes, and introduced new working hours for the businesses to control the pandemic. ■

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