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Fishermen in Alanya proud to be a part of Nobel prize

The fishermen in Alanya, a district in the southern tourist city of Antalya, are sharing in the success of the U.S.’s Elinor Ostrom, the first woman economist to receive the Nobel Prize for her analysis of economic governance, particularly in regards to the commons.

Ostom, 76, who shared the prize with Oliver Williamson, 77, featured a wide section on the fishermen of Alanya, who demonstrated that fish stocks can be husbanded for the benefit of all. Alanya fishermen are now proud to have contributed to the work.

During the 1970s, Alanya witnessed some problems as only a handful of fishermen had taken over the best spots to catch fish, while the number of fish was getting lower and lower, said Mustafa Çakýr, chairman of an aquaculture cooperative in Alanya. Then a new system was developed by the cooperative, he said, adding that it is that system that is still being implemented.

According to the new set of rules, each fisherman had a sector in which he could fish. The following day, they would switch locations and the rotation continued throughout the season, thereby providing an impartial system. The enforcement of this system is maintained by the fishermen themselves, with the government also recognizing the customs.

“Fishermen rotate. Prior to the launch of the fish season, the cooperative meets with fishermen and assigns lots to each person for the first day. One that fishes at one spot fishes at another person’s spot the next day. This has brought a fair implementation for all.”

Proud to be a part of Ostom‘s book, Alanya fishermen said that they did not demand anything from the U.S. prize-winning economist. “According to the information we have gathered, she arrived in Alanya in 1975 and gathered information from fishermen. Back then we were just children. It would be unseemly for us if we made a request from her upon the nomination.”

Significant decline in fish population

“In the past, we used to fish 100 kilograms to 400 kilograms a night. Unfortunately, this is not the case now,” said Rýfat Kule, one of the former presidents of the cooperative. “As the hunt of large boats obstructs fry formation, the fish population has dropped by approximately 75 percent. Through the row system, our friends try to make a living.”

Ahmet Akman, 63, who has been fishing in Alanya for 40 years now, said that they prevent excessive fishing through the system in the fish sites between Karaburun and Gazipaþa. “Our cooperative is continuing its controls, but some fishermen coming from outside damage us. We have warned some of these fishermen and explained the system to them. This way, we have taken the fishery in Alanya under control.”

Noting that the cooperative currently has 19 to 20 fishermen as members, with 80 fishermen outside the umbrella of the cooperative, he said that “all of them comply with the rules. As a cooperative, we have solved this problem through issuing warnings and getting the support of the district governorship. At present, nobody has any complaints. Everyone gets in a row and shifts sites everyday. Fishing depends solely on the chance of the fisher.”

Meanwhile, Hasan Sipahioðlu, the Alanya deputy of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, said that the town’s fishermen gathered under the umbrella of the cooperative in 1969. “They have solved the previous fish site struggles through a lot system of their own. We are pleased that the work conducted by the U.S. economist widely covered Alanya fishermen. This way, our fishermen have also contributed significantly to their own promotion.”

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