The socio-economic impacts of the silver-cheeked toadfish on small-scale fishers: a comparative study from the Turkish coast.
The silver-cheeked toadfish, Lagocephalus sceleratus (Gmelin, 1789), which is enlisted as one of the problematic 100 invasive species in the Mediterranean, entered the Turkish waters in 2003 and since then it has negatively affected the ecosystem and became a major concern for the small-scale fishers. The aim of the present study is to assess the socio-economic impacts of silver-cheeked toadfish on small-scale fishers operating along the Turkish-Mediterranean and the Aegean coast. The research is based on a dataset collected between January 1st, 2013 and January 1st, 2014 using face-to-face interviews with 215 fishers from 7 coastal cities from İzmir-Çesme in the Middle Aegean region to Hatay-Samandağ in the Syrian border. The data obtained in the present study were compared to the data of the only existing previous study carried out by the same researchers in the same coastal cities between 2011-2012 in order to understand the proportion and the direction of the change after two years. The results of this study support other literature, which indicates that silver-cheeked toadfish damage small-scale fisheries. Almost all of the fishers (97%) stated that this species damages their fishing gears and the fish entangled to these fishing gears. The loss caused by silver-cheeked toadfish in 2013-2014 increased by more than double compared to the 2011-2012 period, and in this regard, we hope that such results increase awareness amongst decision-makers. Consequently, there is a definite need for policies and measures (e.g. bounty system, permission of fishing in certain time of the year) to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of the silver-cheeked toadfish on fishers. Imminent decisions to support fishers should be taken based on best available scientific data. We think that further studies should be implemented to monitor the association and interaction between silver-toad fish, other species, the ecosystem, and the socio-economic impact of the pufferfish.