Identification of Influence of Puffer Fish and Alternative Assessment Methods

Living organisms that cross the natural barriers with the help of people and enter into different ecosystems are called “invasive species” and cause changes in both land and marine ecosystems in new environments they reach. With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, not only the world’s maritime trade but also the very different ecosystems of the Red Sea and the Mediterranean have been combined. Numerous Red Sea-based living species, called biological pollution, have occupied ecological gaps in the Mediterranean waters. Invasive species, especially the Eastern Mediterranean, have begun to cause a local economic decline in the Mediterranean ecosystem and serious economic losses resulting in ecosystem deterioration.
Increasing seawater temperature in the Eastern Mediterranean, which is the result of climate change, also affects the number of invasive
species and their behavior. There are a total of 790 invasive species detected in the Mediterranean until today.
Lagocephalus sceleratus, a puffer fish species, is known as the most dangerous invasive species seen in the Eastern Mediterranean. The first record in the Mediterranean was made in the Bay of Gökova in 2003 and it started to be caught in the seas of Marmara Sea (Lapseki) in ten years. L. sceleratus was found to be among the 10 fish species found in the eastern Mediterranean with the highest biomass.
Today, the largest species of puffer fish, which is described as the most dangerous invasive species in the Mediterranean, is L. sceleratus, which can reach 110 cm in length and weigh 7 kg. With each of these sharp double teeth in the chin, the nets and the fishing rod are in great harm.
In the study with fisherman on the Mediterranean coast, it was observed that one of the biggest problems was the puffer fish. Fishermen are in serious complaints that they have also taken fish from their nets and subsequently disintegrated them. The same problem speaks of fishermen in Greece, the Southern part of Cyprus and Lebanon.
The carnivorous puffer fish is fed mainly with crustaceans when it is small in size, and Mollusca when it grows. The economic value in the Gökova Bay is the biggest target species, the shrimp disappearing after 2005, the octopus is not seen to be disappearing in 2008, and the beginning of the puffer fish grows in these areas. Along with the arrival of the puffer fish, fishermen share a common view that the number of mollusks (calamari, octopus, inkfish) is seriously decreasing.
Besides the economical and ecological damages of puffer fishes, it damages the living health because they have a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin (TTX) in their tissues. It is known that this toxin is 1000 times more toxic than cyanide.
TTX toxin is known to pass through the food chain to the fish. It has been shown in studies conducted in the remote region during the breeding season, especially when the amount of TTX in the teeth is further increased. There are not enough studies about whether the bacteria that provide TTX accumulation are present or absent in the body of the fish, since the beef-fed beings have changed in the Mediterranean and are mostly fed with shellfish and mollusk in the later period.
Considering the complaints from fishermen, Ünal et al. (2011 / SÜF / 015), the Ege University, named “The problem of the puffer fish and the determination of the economic losses that it has created” (2014), determined that the damage caused by the fish puffer fisherman in 2011-2012 is about 6 million pounds. Under this project, we realized after this operation, seen serious negative impact on Turkey’s coasts L. sceleratus the economic, ecological and socio-economic tweaking uncovered losses, seasonal, regional and organsal TTX some differences have been identified and solutions for the entire reduce these harmful effects an action plan has been drawn up that includes recommendations. On a 1-year project between April 2013 and April 2013, L. sceleratus was sampled on the banks of Muğla, Antalya, and Mersin on a monthly basis, showing how much TTX is contained in different sizes and genders.
In addition, there have been surveys conducted by fishermen to quantify the economic losses to the fishing industry.
This project was supported by the United Nations GEF Small Grants Program (SGP).