Bluefish festival to save Istanbul's beloved 'lüfer'

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Bluefish festival to save Istanbul's beloved 'lüfer'

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Known locally as lüfer, bluefish are a popular traditional dish along the shores of the Bosphorus – and often served as a tasty snack on board Istanbul’s ferries.

Now endangered by overfishing, campaigners are trying to save them from extinction and have taken their call into the midst of local markets.

Will it work? Some fisherman are not impressed.

“Lüfer is a migrating fish,” said one. “Sure, little ones should not be caught, we’re also against that. But if I don’t fish them, the Greeks will! These people aren’t aware of how much bluefish we exported last year. You can’t say ‘stop fishing’.”

The local branch of Slow Food, an international group founded to counter fast food, is spearheading the campaign. This year it has launched a lüfer festival, setting up stall alongside the traders and shoppers.

Working with local fishermen and top chefs, its longstanding efforts recently paid off when the Turkish government announced an increase in the minimum catch size.

One market stallholder did not see much cause for celebration: “In order to celebrate something you should have plenty of it. Bluefish are found rarely in the sea. One lüfer fish is worth 10 euros. There is no point in celebrating as there aren’t enough bluefish.”

Bora Bayraktar, Euronews correspondent in Istanbul said: “It’s not clear whether this lüfer festival in Istanbul will raise awareness. But it is clear that many species around this region are endangered due to bad fishing methods.”