Fishermen in the southern province of Adana export some 120 tons of blue crabs, known for their flavour and high protein content, across the globe annually, with a sale price of 10 euros a kilo.
Blue crabs, normally native in the waters of the western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, reside in Akyatan Lagoon, located in Adana’s Karataş district.
“We sell blue crabs everywhere across the globe. But the main buyers are from China, Japan and India,” a local fisherman told İhlas News Agency on March 1.
Within Turkey, these sea creatures are not known and not consumed intensively. “We only supply to some resorts inside Turkey,” another added.
Necip Topuz, the mayor of Karataş, especially pointed out the amount of the blue crab business. “We see the blue crabs as important brand value for Karataş,” he said.
Not only the locals’ means of existence, but blue crabs also add value to the district’s promotion. “Last year, we held a ‘Blue Crab Festival.’ We promoted the district well with that fest,” he said proudly.
The total amount differs from 100 tons to 120 tons every year, depending on the fishermen’s efforts.
The eastern countries show more interest in blue crabs, but according to Topuz, Europe is a growing market “for them.”
“There is great demand from the Netherlands, Greece, France and Italy,” he underlined.
Akyatan Lagoon is a 14,700-hectare wetland ecosystem, recognized as an important “bird area,” by BirdLife International. A haven for many bird species, the lagoon is also the single largest green turtle rookery in the Mediterranean.
“The lagoon is a natural beauty. Besides blue crabs, we have Caretta carettas here in the lagoon, too,” the mayor noted. “There are blue crabs in many other parts of the country, but the biggest population lives in this lagoon.”
When asked about the time the blue crab business started in the district, he replied, “We are exporting since the beginning of the 1980s.”
The early history of the recreational blue crab fishery in the Gulf of Mexico is not known, however, the blue crab was recorded as an important food item for Native Americans and European settlers in the U.S. as early as the 1600s.