Encyclopedic Information About Pearl Mullet
The tarek is the jewel of Lake Van in Turkey. Found nowhere else in the world, this fish thrives in the lake's salty and carbonated waters, which are inhospitable to other forms of fresh-water and marine fish. In May and June of each year it travels upstream through the lake's tributaries to lay eggs, flying through the air like salmon. And there lies the problem.
Many locals have become accustomed to the ease of sticking out bags and catching troves of fish as they jump out of the water. They catch so many fish in May–June that they don't have to fish for the rest of the year. And locals prefer to catch the fish during reproduction season, when the females are filled with eggs, which are considered a delicacy.
This is also the best recipe for killing off the species. Despite a government ban on fishing during reproduction season, this kind of fishing has become a big business. In the 1960s only 600 tons of the fish were harvested annually; today that figure has jumped to 15,000 tons. The species were put on an Endangered Species list in 1994.
The Migration of Pearl Mullet for Egg Laying
Drawings: Mustafa SARI (Yüzüncü Yıl University)