Settlement and Livelihood at Lake Manyas, Turkey

Settlement and Livelihood at Lake Manyas, Turkey

14 February 2002

[Ed: This feature was kindly sent to us by Dr Yilmaz Ari, now Assistant Professor of Geography at Balikesir University in Turkey. The text below forms chapter 3 of his PhD thesis which involved a study of one of the Ramsar sites in northwestern Turkey, Lake Manyas (Kus). His study focused on the conservation of the area through a cultural perspective.  He writes "Human use of the lake goes back at least several millennia and there is an ancient city site on the SE shores of the lake.  An archeological excavation has been continuing at the site since the 1950s.  After the second half of the 19th century the area was settled by immigrants from the Balkans and Caucasus and they are still using the resources on a daily basis." More details from the study can be obtained from Yilmaz at .]

Türkmens call this (lake) Manyas. Not so deep…there are several excellent fish species in it including trout and pike. There are hunters who pay tax to the government. Hunting and trading are restricted to those who buy permits. In winters…the lake is full of beautiful birds including geese, ducks, swans, cormorants, gulls, pelicans, and others and the Manyas area shakes because of the voices of geese and swans and their wing beats. Hunters of these birds pay taxes as well (Evliya Çelebi 1658).

Settlement History of the Area

The earliest evidence of settlement around Lake Manyas is at Ergili Köyü in the southeast corner of the lake (Akurgal 1955; Bakýr 1989). Excavations at Daskyleion [1] have revealed a frontier settlement built by Persian Satraps around the 7th century BC. The site seems to have been occupied almost continuously until the late Byzantine period, but no archeological evidence has been found indicating traces of life at the site after the Byzantines.

According to the oral history of the villagers, the northern side of the lake was only settled in the past 100 years. By contrast, archival records show that the southern side of the lake had several relatively large settlements during Ottoman times. The quote at the beginning of this chapter is from the Seyahatname of Evliya Çelebi, a 17th century Ottoman traveler who traveled from Bursa to Gönen along the south side of the lake in 1658 and visited Bolcaaðaç (Bölceaðaç today) a village that is still there. Çelebi stated that:

High reeds grow around the lake.. at a certain time of the year, people harvest and process the reeds and make different color prayer rugs, mattresses, and floor coverings out of them that capture one's amazement (Çelebi 1658, 1635).

According to Çelebi a weekly bazaar at Bolcaaðaç attracted some 50,000 people. It seems likely that at this bazaar, different products from the Lake were sold but other than what Çelebi wrote, we know very little about use of the lake. Despite claims in the earlier literature (Sayhan 1988, 1990), there is no evidence to show that Ottoman Sultans and Þahzades used this area for hunting or fishing, or that it was set aside as an imperial reserve.

Because the past migration patterns and ethnicity of these villages affect how people utilize the land, I present a brief history of these migrations and ethnicities. Kocagöl (Kazak Köyü), a village situated on the southwest corner of the lake, has perhaps the most interesting ethnic structure. This was the earliest settlement established close to the lake [2], and was the home of Orthodox Christian Cossacks for more than two centuries. These people came here from the Kuban region of southern Russia, migrating first to the delta of Danube [3] (Evdokimova 1999) It was the Cossacks who introduced commercial fishing to the lake somewhere around the 1780s, possibly practicing a way of life from their original homeland (Andrews 1989). Some 10,000 Cossacks came to Anatolia between 1780 and 1790, and settled near freshwater lakes throughout Turkey (Hinçer 1962). Özeþmi (1999) reported that they were working fisheries around the delta of Kýzýlýrmak in northern Turkey at the end of the 19th century. For various political reasons, most of the descendants of these Cossacks returned to the Soviet Union in the 1960s. In 1963, 1,100 of these Cossacks left Kocagöl [4] (Hinçer 1962; Fýndýkoðlu 1966; Andrews 1989); only one person, Vedat Deðirmenci, together with his wife and a son remained in Kocagöl. He is the source for some of the Cossack histories used here.

The Cossacks also established a second important fishing village, Bereketli, on the northern shore of the lake in the early 1900s. The new village made it easier for them to fish more efficiently because it reduced the travel time from their original site in Kocagöl. Andrews (1989) suggests that they established this village because they were following another church other than the two in Kocagöl.

Most of the northern shore of the lake was settled as a result of the immigration of Ottoman Muslims from the Balkans [5]. Before 1877, when the first immigrants arrived from the northern Balkans, no settlements existed on lakeshore other than isolated farmhouses (referred to as manav or gacal by the new arrivals in reference to their native character).

Three major migration flows took place from the Balkans to Anatolia that have affected the Lake Manyas region. After the Ottoman-Russian War in 1877-78, known locally as the 93 Harbi (referring to the Islamic year 1293), Russia occupied parts of the Balkans and most of the Muslim population left for Anatolia. These people are called 93 Muhacirs. By 1878, 30,000 of these migrants were in the Bandýrma area (Turan 1998) [6].

The second major flow came in 1924 when Turkey and Greece signed the Lausanne Treaty that allowed a population exchange between the two countries. People who came at this time are still called exchange migrants, mübadele muhaciri [7]. The third flow came from Bulgaria in 1952 and is called 52 muhaciri. This followed numerous attempts in Bulgaria after 1948, to induce Muslims to change their names, renounce their faith, and become integrated into the Bulgarian State. The Muslims resisted and were either resettled within Bulgaria, or migrated to Turkey (Eminov 1997).

The first settlement established by migrants from the Balkans is Sýðýrcý Atik [8], a village on the northeast corner of the lake just east of the national park (Figure 2). The 93 Muhacirs from the southern Romania and northern Bulgaria established it. Subsequently some relatives of the 93 Muhacirs arrived from Bulgaria in 1952. Today, everyone in the village speaks Turkish except the most recent migrants from Bulgaria who speak both Turkish and Bulgarian.

Figure 2. Village of Eski Sýðýrcý just to the east of the national park. The road symbolizes the long-lasting relationship between the village and the lake.

In 1924, Pomaks [9] from the village of Kurita near Kavala, Greece, were relocated in Bereketli, near the village of Yeni Sýðýrcý as part of a Turkish-Greek population exchange [10]. Living in extremely difficult conditions, they were eventually given land, and settled around 1925-26 (Figure 3). In 1999, six people who had migrated from Greece were alive and able to tell their stories about the migration process. Today, people older than about 50 to 55 years still speak the Pomak language. When the newcomers from Greece arrived in 1924, in addition to the community of Cossacks, there were also a few Tatar families living in the village who migrated from the Danube delta (after originally migrating there from the Crimea) around the turn of the century. A Tatar migrant, Müstecep, who was born in Þahman near Bucharest in Romania, said that the Tatars chose to settle in this location because they were familiar with fishing in the Danube.

Figure 3. The Pomak village of Bereketli on the northern shores of the lake.

In addition to the three migration flows from the Balkans, there was another flow from the Caucasus. Kabardines settled around the lake as a result of this migration event. Yeni Sýðýrcý, a village a few miles to the northwest of Eski Sýðýrcý [11] was settled by these immigrants. They came from Kabardine in the northern Caucasus to Bursa in 1900 and then to Lake Manyas in 1902. Although there were 310 families there in 1911, 150 families subsequently returned to the Caucasus (Özbek 1991) and today they are less than that figure (see Table 2 in Chapter 2). Most of these people migrated to cities or to other countries, including Canada and the United States. They still speak the Kabardine language among themselves and learn Turkish only when they begin school.

Two communities, Manav villages, Külefli and Çepni, are located west of Bereketli away from the lake on hilltops. They are exclusively farming villages and have more agricultural lands than any other village around the lake. To the southwest of Çepni lies Gölyaka, another Pomak village and seems to have been settled by relatives of people in Bereketli. This is another village experiencing out-migration today, a major destination for villagers being Bandýrma. The villages on the south, Hamamlý, Salur, Kýzýksa and Ergili are ethnically mixed and include Muhacirs, Pomak, Circassian, Manav, and Turks who migrated from other parts of Anatolia.

This ethnic structure is one of the most striking features of the study area. Each of these ethnic groups came from different environmental settings and adopted new strategies to make a living. Each of these communities introduced different skills and economic practices that were adapted by other groups over time. For example, when Pomaks moved here, they knew nothing about fishing.

They had to learn how and changed their diet to include fish. Each group has a nostalgic feeling toward their homeland because, for one reason or another, they were forced to migrate from there. One of my informants in Bereketli, Osman Sevinç, still remembers his childhood days in Greece and misses them greatly. This attachment to old ways is strongest among the Kabardines as they always talk about moving back to Kabardine, now an autonomous region in Russia. Yet they had to develop strategies that would provide them subsistence. It was interesting to see, in such a small area, that so many different groups live together interacting, teaching, and learning from one another. In mixed villages people have a strong sense of identification and knowledge about origins of different groups. The locals do not call the different villages by name but by their ethnic structure. For example, I rarely heard local people using Yeni Sýðýrcý, but they use Kabartay to refer to that village or Kazak Köyü to refer to Kocagöl, although the Cossacks left a long time ago. Yet in everyday life, they seem to treat each other well [12].

However, the constantly changing and diverse character of the area created a lack of community cohesion in the Lake Manyas area. Each of these groups has different agendas and priorities depending on their particular situation, and this in turn led to the lack of a strong sense of community (see Chapter 6 for detailed discussion).

Local Livelihood Practices


According to Evliya Çelebi, the lake was very rich in fish species including trout and pike. It is not yet clear how fish resources were managed in earlier times. We do know, however, that the Ottomans employed a system of management called Iltizam and that this system existed as early as mid 16th century.

In the Iltizam system natural resources were seen as assets of the central government, and the government would lease the resources to individuals who would work them for certain number of years. When Turkey was established in 1923, the Iltizam system remained in force and it is still used today to manage fishery resources of the lake. In this system the lake is leased to an individual mültezim through a competitive bidding process for a certain period of time, usually two years. After the term is over, the government reopens the bidding. It is clear from oral histories that until the late 1960s, that is until the establishment of the first local co-operative, the mültezims were businessmen from either Istanbul or nearby cities. For a long time, the local communities worked the fisheries under these mültezims. The mültezim would hire a security guard to protect the lake. By custom and by law, a lake dweller can catch fish for his or her own consumption, but cannot sell them in markets or other places. Protecting their assets became a major challenge to the mülltezims, as they had to hire people with horses to ride around the lake and inspect every boat. These people were well armed and obeyed by local people. Even officials of the co-ops today talk about them with admiration, and regret that they are no longer in a position to enforce similar rules.

It is most likely that fishing has always played an important role in local livelihoods. However, there is no evidence to suggest that it has always had high commercial value, at least prior to 1877 when migration from the Balkans to the Lake Manyas area began. Fishing was started by the Cossacks but became commercialized after the migration from the Balkans. People in Bereketli, the main fishing village on the lake today, suggest that they were the only community dependent on fishing until the Mübadele Muhacirs arrived from Greece.

When Pomaks came to Bereketli from Kavala, Greece, beginning in 1924, they never ate fish, thinking that only non-Muslims, gavurlar, consumed fish (Osman Sevinç, Personal Interview 1999 [13]). Six of the immigrants were still alive in 1999 and none of them has actually fished in the lake. Osman Sevinç did not eat fish until 1980 and now would eat only certain fish. However, earlier refugees from the Caucasus and the Balkans had re-settled around the lake, occupying most of the agricultural lands. In this situation, the Pomaks turned to fishing. Pomaks knew nothing about fishing. Osman Sevinç, describing the situation 70 years ago said:

They did not want to teach us, even to show us, how to fish. They would make their nets in a place where we could not see because they did not want another large community fishing. They were kind enough to give us fish to eat, but we would not eat them because we thought that fish was a food for non-Muslims.

Another informant, Müstecep, a Tatar from Romania who came to the village in 1936, remembers that:

Although the Cossacks did not want to teach us how to fish, we were familiar with fishing on the banks of the Danube River. Also, they were doing ýrýp fishing (a type of group fishing), which required a considerable amount of labor from a relatively large group. Sometimes they were short of people and would call us for help, but they would never call a Pomak. In this way, we became accustomed to going fishing and whenever we needed help from others, we called Pomaks instead of Cossacks to help. This is how the Pomaks got into the fishing business.

These stories show how a new circumstance can change a community's way of life. The Pomaks began fishing because they had no other alternative [14]. Today, Bereketli is the largest fishing village on the lake with almost 80 percent of the villagers owning boats, or working with boat owners. For six years after the Cossacks left, the fisherman still worked for mültezims as had the Cossacks.

In 1968, the first efforts to strengthen local communities in the fishing business began. One man, Izzettin Yaþbek, stands out as the organizer of these efforts. He had a high school education (regarded as very educated for a villager at the time) and tried to get the Pomaks from Bereketli to start a co-op, lease the lake, and work for themselves instead of mültezims. Eventually a co-op was formed, though not without problems [15], and it acquired the fishing rights as mültezim. In 1969, fishermen from other villages became members of the co-op and started working the lake on their behalf. This event was celebrated as a major victory against the mültezims [16].

Mültezims did not like this situation and tried to prevent local co-ops from renting the lake as mültezims. For example, when the first local co-op was established in 1968 and rented the lake [17], one of the mültezims established a new co-op with only seven members and sought permission from the government to join the bidding process. After a team of investigators from Ankara examined the case, they decided that there was collusion involved and refused the request. The mültezim appealed the case to a higher court, and the court decided that it was illegal to rent the lake without bidding. Following the court's decision, a new bidding process was undertaken in 1971 and another mültezim, Hakký Eþeoðlu from Afyon, in western Turkey, rented the lake by paying 445,000 Turkish Lira, two-and-one- half times the price of the previous bid. However, protesting this high cost, local fishermen refused to work the fisheries under this mültezim who finally left the area. When bidding was reopened, a former fisherman from Bereketli who had migrated to Istanbul paid 951,000 Turkish Lira and rented the lake. This draw a protest from the mültezim who had appealed to the court before who argued that this former fisherman was still a member of the local co-op and he, together with the co-op, had broken the law by both participating in the bidding. Although this claim was rejected by the courts, the former fisherman gave up the idea of renting the lake. The struggle between local coops and outside mültezims was finally resolved by the enactment of the Co-op Law 1163 in 1971, which stated that the resources should be rented to local co-ops and unions as a matter of priority. Under this new law the lake was rented to the local co-op for 445,000 Turkish Lira in 1971 (Yaþbek 1987).

The people of Bereketli were clearly the beneficiaries of this arrangement. The lake fisheries were developed more intensively and brought considerable prosperity to the community [18]. Between 1972 and 1978 the Bereketli co-op was able to build a cold storage depot for 100 tons and an icehouse with a capacity of 3 tons per day. Because of the declining catch these facilities are no longer in use today.

This arrangement ended in 1978 when the government passed a new co-op law, requiring that all the villages around the lake had to be organized as separate co-ops. The intention seems to have been to encourage more intensive development of the fisheries and to provide fish products for the state-run markets in the cities [19]. As a result, seven new co-ops were started and formed a union to organize fishing in the lake. Understandably, the village of Bereketli did not like this situation and did not join the union. The political views of the majority of the villagers were opposed to the government's at the time, and to protest the government decisions, they did not fish in the lake for a year between 1978 and 1979 [20] (Yaþbek 1987).

The seven co-ops were established with government subsidies and were entitled to long-term, low-interest loans to purchase equipment to operate on the lake. These seven co-ops formed a union and leased the lake for a period of one year. When the period ended in 1979, the Bereketli co-op rented the lake again. However, court overruled the decision and all co-ops signed a protocol to use the fishery resources together. The co-ops worked according to this protocol until the mid-1980s. Particularly in the late 1970s, the bidding processes included considerable amount of local and national politics, as the political situation in the country was highly chaotic.

After the drought of 1984 and 1985 the fish catch declined dramatically and failed to meet expectations. As a result, in 1985 the Eski Sýðýrcý co-op unanimously voted to leave the union, and the other co-ops followed them in the next several years. During this time, not only was the union dissolved but also the individual co-ops from other villages were broken up, with the result that only two remain operating on the lake. These two are the first co-op in the lake area, the Bereketli co-op, and the Eski Sýðýrcý co-op.

Today the two co-ops still operate the lake and some fishermen from other villages are due paying members of these co-ops. Because the amount of fish caught declined gradually and there is a strong cooperation between these two co-ops, nobody from outside competes to rent the lake. For the past 10 years or so, the two co-ops have jointly leased the lake and shared the rent according to their catch. The Bereketli co-op has more than 100 members and the Eski Sýðýrcý has approximately 50. To avoid raising the rent during past several years, only the Bereketli co-op leased the lake and the Eski Sýðýrcý co-op worked under them by paying annual dues.

In summary, the past forty years has seen significant changes in the management of the lake's fisheries as co-ops have replaced the mültezims. Individual fishermen are members of the co-ops and now work for the co-ops instead of mültezims. The co-ops are officially open during the fishing session, which extends from July to January. The members elect the board members of the co-ops every two years. After returning from fishing everyday, the fishermen take their catch to the facilities of the co-ops. They weigh their catch, record the number and species and leave unless they work for the co-ops. The co-ops get a certain percentage depending on what projects they want to do in a certain fishing period. This varies from two to 10 percent. In return, the co-op is responsible for keeping the fish fresh and transporting the catch to the market. To do this they need to maintain necessary storage facilities, ice houses, transportation vehicles and employees to perform these jobs. When fishing business was in its zenith in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Co-op Union maintained several buildings, ice houses, and storage facilities in Koyunkaya, a place away from any settlement on the northern shore of the lake. But scale of activities is much reduced and these facilities at Koyunkaya site were abandoned for a number of years now.

Fishing Practices


The traditional method of fishing in the lake was ýrýpcýlýk, introduced by the Cossacks. Osman Altýn, a long time fisherman in Berektli described this practice as a sophisticated system of group fishing. A group of people called tayfa combine their labor and equipment to get the most out of the lake. These people shared nine fishing boats of which six were hunter boats, avcý, and the three were carriers, taþýyýcý. Each avcý boat had three people. One person was the boat captain and one of these captains was designated as baþkaptan, the head captain of the tayfa. The baþkaptan was usually an experienced old man who made all major decisions during a fishing session. He decided where to throw the nets, ýrýps, and during the process assigned work to each member of the tayfa. Individual boat captains made minor decisions affecting each individual boat. The baþkaptan was held responsible for the success and failure of the trip.

Fishing took exactly six days. The 24 people assembled whatever they needed for these six days, such as clothes, food, and other items. Before fishing began, each boat took up a certain position. The six avcý boats were divided into three groups each consisting of two boats. These three groups formed a triangle about 400 to 600 meters (depending on the length of their nets, ýrýps) apart. Once in position, the boat on the right started moving in a circular clockwise direction and the one on the left started moving in a circular counter-clockwise direction until they meet the boat coming from the other direction, forming a circle. When moving to the right and left, they slowly started dropping their nets.

As soon as the boats started moving away from each other, the crew in the taþýyýcý kayýk tied the ýrýps of the two avcý boats together with a large bag called a torba. When the boats met, the crews tied the ýrýps of the boats together using a stick called a çeltik. At that time a circle with a diameter of about 500 to 1000 meters was formed. The ýrýps were left in place and all kayýks except the taþýyýcý started moving to the center of the circle. When they all met at the center, the kaptan of the kayýks positioned a pole some five meters in length, called a par, and tied the boats to them. The nets were tied to the boats with a rope. After the circle was completed no fish could escape from it. The nets were pulled with a spool in each kayýk. When the pulling was done, the ýrýp came close to the kayýks and the nets were later pulled in by hand. Small fish that they did not need was thrown away. The large fish were loaded into the taþýyýcý kayýks using a big metal bowl with a handle, called a kepçe. When the session was complete the amount of fish caught may have varied from several kilograms to several tons, depending on the fishing conditions and the fishing ability of the team.

The ýrýps used in this group fishing were three to four meters deep and some 150 meters in length. The upper side of the ýrýp , called mantar yaka, had corks attached to it to prevent it from sinking. On the bottom side, or taban yaka, there was a thick rope called a halat. This heavy rope dragged the net to the bottom so the fish could not escape once the fishing circle was completed. The ýrýps had 40 to 45 millimeters of mesh size and caught everything larger than several hundred grams. The torba was made out of rope that was thicker and stronger than the rope of the ýrýp because at the end of a session there would be an enormous pressure on the rope that would be unable to hold. When the ýrýps were pulled in, a stick with a hook at the end called a Basarna, was used to hold the bottom side on the ground so that the fish inside the circle cannot escape.

This way of fishing, ýrýpcýlýk, was practiced for decades in at least three villages around the lake. Before boats with engines were introduced to the lake, they moved by man or wind power. Thus it was not possible to travel from villages to fish and return in the same day. At night the crew put into shore, ate dinner, slept, and returned to the lake early next morning. Before 1962 when the Cossacks left the area, fishermen would leave the villages on Monday morning and return on Saturday night, so they could attend church on Sunday. When Muslims started this type of fishing, they shifted the departure time to Saturday morning and returned on Thursday night, making Friday, the religious day of Muslims, the off day. During a day, four to six voles [21] were done. Whatever they caught, the taþýyýcý boats carried to the shore and gave to the mültezims, returning as soon as possible. Mültezims waited for the catch on the shore and sent the fresh catch to markets, as there was no technology to store it.

Until the mid-1980s, this was the major way of commercial fishing on the lake and it shaped the lifestyles of those living around the lake. Individuals made a long term commitment to the tayfa, and their relationship with others was determined more by their tayfa than anything else. After the Cossacks left the area, this type of fishing started to lose importance. The last time this system was used was during the drought of 1985.

Some locals say that the reason why ýrýpcýlýk is no longer practiced is because the amount of fish caught each year has steadily declined, and there is not enough fish now to justify the method. Others, however, stated that the ýrýp system was abandoned because it created some inequities, as captains, for example, did little of the heavy labor required, but got an equal share. Technological change also seems to have played a role in this as well as boats with engines require fewer men.


Since local fishermen abandoned the ýrýp system, the most popular and widespread fishing practice has been the vole. This usually involves two people in one fishing boat. In fact, all commercial fishers work in this way today. One of them owns the boat, and the other is usually a friend or helper from the village. Although the boat is owned by one of the fisherman, after expenses the two share the income equally. The boat owner is usually in a better economic situation and sharing income demonstrates social cooperation

In terms of decision making, the vole is different from ýrýp in that there is not really a captain. Decisions are made after a discussion, and usually the more experienced person's opinion wins out. Whenever they decide to make a vole, they stop the engine and start to throw their net, called a fanyalý, into the water. The mesh in these types of nets is anywhere from 20 to 65 millimeters. An interval of 40 millimeters would catch fish between 200 grams to 10 kilograms. A piece of rock is tied to the end of the net lowered to the bottom, and a pole is used to mark its location. The bottom side of the fanyalý has lead attachments to keep it on the bottom, and the top has a cork to keep it afloat. These nets are usually one-and-a-half to two meters deep as compared to ýrýp's two to three meters. One possible explanation for this is that the lake is getting shallower due to rapid sedimentation and the deeper nets are no longer necessary.

As with the ýrýp, but on a much smaller scale, the fishermen lower the fanyalý into the water as the boat makes a circle, the free end eventually being attached to the original pole. After the circle is made, the more experienced fisherman starts pulling in the net after one or two hours. In a vole session, it is normal to catch anything from no fish to several hundred kilograms of fish.

Fishermen leave for fishing around 5 a.m. and make one vole every two to three hours. Usually they make two or three voles a day, depending on how much time they have been given by the co-ops and the kayafs, the individual fish traders. They usually are expected to return by noon to give them a chance to send the fish to markets while it is fresh (Figure 4). This creates a very relaxed atmosphere for the fisherman as they have the afternoon to work on other things or find activities to supplement their income from other sources.

The kayafs are local people who do not fish but sell the fish. They usually own a car or a truck and carry the fish to local markets. They work when the co-ops are officially closed for the off season. The kayafs determine what time the fishermen should come back for specific markets. Thus time and available markets determine the fish price each day. For example, there is a large bazaar in Bandýrma every Saturday, so the price is higher on that day than on other days.

Figure 4. After returning from Vole, Yaþar, a local fisherman, cleans his nets. Pelicans are waiting for the trash fish.



If the fanyalý nets are taken to the lake and left there overnight, this is called uzatma, meaning extended. This practice is common among part-time, less professional fishermen because it takes less time and can be done when other activities such as agriculture do not conflict. This way, the fishermen do not spend time waiting during the day. This is more of an independent activity and usually two fishermen are involved, one pulling in the nets, and the other cleaning them. In contrast to the vole, nets are placed in a line rather than a circle, supposedly making it possible to catch more fish, although my own experience does not support this. Once the fishermen haul in the nets, they clean and clear them and then reset them. This usually takes several hours to complete and normally they return to the village about nine or ten in the morning. Sometimes if they have tasks in the village, they take their nets and clean them on the way back to village, then return them to the lake during the late afternoon before it gets dark. The type of nets used in this are the same as those used in vole.


A pinter is a basket-like device that is commonly used around the lake. It is made of wire and nets. It includes six different sized circles, or kasnaks made out of wire and a net, or perde that wraps around them. The size decreases gradually from the mouth to the bottom. There is a trap in the first circle called a dil, and another one on the third circle called içdil. As fish move through the pinter, they are trapped and cannot return. Crayfish are caught with a similar basket called istakoz sepeti .

People who live further away from the shoreline come to the lake only once every day or two use this device. After placing the pinter somewhere in the lake, all they have to do is check it occasionally. If there is any catch, they unload the fish and return to their villages. If the water recedes they move the pinter into deeper water. These people in most cases are not commercial fishers but subsistence fishers, who fish to supplement their livelihoods. This is a very inexpensive activity, since they do not need a boat, rather a pinter and a pair of wading boots. This device used by part-time fisherman is made locally and does not require any sophisticated skills.


A basma is an oval basket used to catch fish. It is used particularly to catch large fish, such as pike, carp, and the seathfish that come to the lakeshore to spawn. At this time, usually between April and June, fish come to the areas covered by rising water. During these times there is an abundance of fish along the shoreline. Each basma covers some two square meters of an area and can catch several kilograms of fish. This practice disturbs spawning activity, however, and is prohibited by law. As this method demonstrates it would be misleading to suggest that the local residents engage in harmful fishing practices. In general, people who do this are not regular fishermen and they do it only when fish come to the lakeshore. The problem with basma and kýyý ýrýbý is that the fish are caught out of season, mostly right before spawning.


Another harmful practice is kýyý ýrýbý, which involves catching spawning fish with larger nets. Again these are not the fishermen who make their living from fishing. Fishermen know about the danger of this practice and they fight to prevent it. Particularly the co-ops educate the general public about this issue but they do not have the power to enforce any law.

Moreover, local fishermen themselves may ignore regulations governing the taking of fish. One of the most notable concerns is fishing times. The Ministry of Forestry General Directorate of Protection and Inspection in Ankara has determined legal fishing periods for the lake since 1971. Unfortunately the Directorate's regulations are very general and do not take into account the specific conditions of different lake and coastal fisheries. This situation has been a source of complaints among local fisherfolk for years (Yaþbek 1987). They argue that generalized timing creates problems for specific lakes and certain fish species. The fishing of common carp, for example, is prohibited from March 31 until June 1. However, the Bereketli co-operative argues that extending this period to August would better protect this species. Also, the fishermen think that the crayfish season should start by June first, but the Directorate continues its ban until late June.

This does not mean, however, that fishermen around the lake observe the banned times. Particularly during the past several years, fishing regulations seem to have been increasingly ignored, so that fishing a year-round around the lake includes particular fish species that are protected. For example, the fishing circular 33/1 from the 1999-2000 session (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Affairs, 1999) stated that the pike smaller than 40 centimeters, carp smaller than 30 centimeters, and sheatfish smaller than 70 centimeters cannot be caught. However, during the summer and fall of 1999 it was clear that people ignored this circular and took what they could. Although they are aware of the ban and accept that what they do might be harmful to species in the lake, their reaction is summarized in one fisherman's statement: "If I do not catch it somebody else will."

Most commercial fishermen are aware of the circular, and observe it, but subsistence fishers do not. The co-ops do not have the power they had before the mid-1980s to enforce fishing regulation; sometimes individual members do not obey the laws.

Fish Catches and Major Species

For one reason or another, the official statistics on fish production do not reflect the actual catch [22]. Before the establishment of the cooperatives, the mültezims did not keep a "true" record of the amount fished because next year's lease price depended on the fish caught in the previous year. In the early years, the co-ops kept records of their catch. These numbers, if dependable, suggest that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, 500-750 tons of fish came from the lake each year, and 100-150 tons of crayfish (Yaþbek 1987). Records from those years suggest that this was pretty much the case until the mid-1980s. Then there was a sharp decline, after a 1985 drought, and the fish catch dropped to 29 tons and the crayfish catch dropped from 36 tons (1985) to 7 tons (1986).

Economically the most important fish species have been yayýn balýðý, sheatfish (Siluris glanis), turna, pike (Exos lucius), sazan, carp (Cyprinus carpio), yýlan balýðý, eel (Anguilla anguilla) and kefal, chub (Leuciscus cephalus). Evliya Çelebi mentions trout in the lake but there is no mention of it in modern literature, and the local fishermen do not remember ever taking that species.

Kerevit (Istakoz), Crayfish (Astacus fluviatilis) probably has been economically the most valuable species in the lake. In fact, the lake became famous for crayfish because their white legs them a gourmet delicacy (they are supposedly tastier than other kinds) (Yaþbek 1989). They were caught entirely for export to Western Europe and Scandinavian countries. There has been no local consumption because of the religious ban.

Production fluctuated between 20 and 150 tons before 1985. At that time a disease was found in the shellfish of the lake and production of crayfish collapsed. Before 1985, the crayfish harvest produced almost 10 times more income for lake fishermen than the fish (Yaþbek 1987).

The sheatfish and eel, two carnivorous species, were economically important until the late 1970s. However, their numbers declined dramatically and they are now rare in the lake. No eels were observed during the fieldwork for this study, and the sheatfish that were caught weighed only about 15 to 20 pounds. This fish is the largest species in the lake and can be as large as 400 pounds each (Balýk 1989). Local fishermen remember catching sheatfish as big as 300 pounds in the 1960s. These species live in the bottom parts of the lake. Therefore, the decline of their numbers seems to have been correlated with the declining Dissolved Oxygen (DO) levels. In a typical eutrophic lake, because of the algae in the hypolimnion the sunlight cannot reach the bottom part of the lake, preventing oxygen-producing microorganisms from doing so. Thus oxygen-demanding species cannot flourish in these parts anymore (Owen, et al. 1998). For a detailed discussion of the relationship between the DO levels and species see Chapter 4.

Turna (Exos lucius), pike, is another carnivorous species in the lake. Its diet depends on live prey and its presence, together with birds, is very important for the regulation of small and economically valueless fish species, which have increased in the lake significantly in recent years. These species include white bream (Blicca bjoerkna), bleak (Alburnus alburnus), sand goby (Gobius fluviatilis), and others. Today, pike is an important species economically and the numbers caught are probably higher than for any other species.

Sazan, carp, an omnivorous species, historically has been one of the more important species and has always had some kind of market value. In the 1960s and 1970s when carp was abundant in the lake it was exported to Syria and Lebanon and produced a good income for local fishermen. Today, the catch is consumed locally in western Turkey. When carp catches declined in the early 1980s the co-op in Eski Sýðýrcý decided to introduce young carp to the lake, and purchased 250,000 carp from fish farms, but the experiment did not succeed (Mustafa Ateþ, Personal Interview 1999).

Filise (Caspialosa maeotica) is one of the most important small fish typical of the lake. Normally, they live in the sea and migrate to the lake during the spawning time through the rivers Susurluk and Karadere. The migration usually starts in April and continues through May. This fish is valued and consumed locally because people believe that it treats embolism [23].

The sharp decline in fish catches that became evident in the 1980s generated considerable argument over the reasons for the decline and appropriate remedial measures. Some sources attributed this to over fishing. Balýk (1987) states that some mültezims before the 1970s did not buy carp and encouraged the fishermen to focus on the seathfish due to its high market value. In fact, the sheatfish, a predator species, regulated the number of carp in the lake. So the excessive fishing of the sheatfish left a large number of carp and other small fish in the lake. In addition, the small fish in the lake were not caught because of low market value. These small fish have food preference similar to that of the carp's. Because the populations of sheatfish and pike, the predator species, have declined, the only controlling factor has been bird species that lived in or used the area for a time. There is a high awareness of this among locals. It is one important reason why locals would like to get more birds to the lake and, indeed, protect them.

An alternative explanation for the decline of fish with high market value is sedimentation within the lake. A number of studies (Kazancý, et al. 1997; HÜR 1997) have determined that the sedimentation is one of the most important ecological threats to the lake ecosystem [24]. The most potentially valuable economic species, the sheatfish, prefers deep waters that have muddy bottoms (Balýk 1987). Pike live in clean unpolluted lakes with flourishing vegetation. However, pollution diminishes the favorable conditions for these species. Exactly how rapid sedimentation has affected the fish species is not known, but the ecology of the lake has changed a great deal.

Reclamation projects also affected some species in a negative manner as well. Pike, for example, prefer areas that are inundated for spawning. Reclamation projects have decreased the rhythmic fluctuations in these areas. During the spawning season the water depth may be too high for pike to spawn successfully (HÜR 1997). Although the DSI argues that it tried to avoid harming fish, no extended studies were undertaken to assess the long-term impacts of the reclamation projects on fishing species.

Euthrophication speeds up when wastes from the poultry industry, agricultural industry, and households, which include nitrogen and phosphates are carried to the lake by surface and groundwater particularly. Oxygen demanding organic wastes pollute the lake in an increasing pace. As a result the DO levels have decreased, and biological oxygen demand (BOD) has increased. It is well known that some species cannot live in these lakes. The decline of sheatfish, eel, and pike may be partly attributed to these ecological changes. Carp, on the other hand, are better adapted to eutrophic lakes and can survive in low DO levels. Fish declines coincide with effects of rapid urbanization and industrialization that occured in the 1980s.

The reason for the decline and virtual disappearance of crayfish is attributed to a disease, which appeared in 1985. A local fisherman accused colleagues for the disease. He believes that the crayfish food they prepared by mixing cement with sand and left in the crayfish baskets caused the disease. Because this had been the most important economical species of the lake, fishing has never been the same after the disease. Many people left fishing, and those who continued fishing have never made a decent income from fishing after the demise of the crayfish harvest.

Officials at the national park and Ministry of Forestry also state that fish declines had something to do with over fishing and their investigators have argued that fishing should be banned temporarily, even permanently (Sayhan 1987; Karabolat 1997). After much discussion and resistance from locals, fishing in the lake was completely banned for the first time in the fall of 2000 until fall of 2002 (Netgazete, 10.17.2000 Internet).

Fishing Culture

"There is no reed bed in this lake under which I did not sleep " says Kamil, one of the most experienced fishermen of the village of Eski Sýðýrcý who has worked the lake fisheries since 1964. He misses bitterly the old days when all fish were abundant, and provided surplus income. However, the last five or ten years have been tough for people like him, who depend completely on the lake for their living. Livelihoods of the lake dwellers normally are tied to a set of activities. Traditionally, residents have engaged in one major activity, like fishing, livestock raising, or agriculture then supplemented incomes from other sources. However, due to diminishing resources and population pressure, people increasingly combine activities. For example, Süleyman Altýn, a native of Bereketli, used to be a fisherman as were most people in that village. When he joined the Turkish Navy [25] in 1983, he learned ship navigation and returned to his village in 1985. He spent that year fishing. However, fishing was poor so he tried to find support from outside, and eventually found a job with a travel agency to take tourists along the Aegean coast. But this was a summer job. When he returned to the village in the winter, there was not much to do, so he decided to start a business in Bandýrma. His three brothers are operators of a grain harvester and move from place to place during the harvest time. The family procured its livelihood solely from fishing until late 1970s, but after that fishing was never enough.

Emphasizing the difficulty of life around the lake, Kamil says that he is tired of "living in the mud," and does not want his children "to get into the mud." Instead, he saved money to send his son, Mustafa, first to high school in Bandýrma, and then to private courses to prepare him for the university entrance exams. Mustafa was one of the luckier applicants given the ten-percent acceptance rate, and eventually got a high enough grade to attend one of the universities in Ankara. This case actually represents a trend in which more youngsters look beyond their villages for a living. Some go to universities, others migrate to the cities [26] to find jobs. Some even commute to the work from their villages. There are shuttle busses taking younger workers from villages around the lake to factories, and particularly to auto repair facilities in Bandýrma in the early morning, and taking them back in the evening. When asked why he was sending his son to an auto-repair shop, a farmer responded that "there was no way to provide a secure income in the village anymore."

Fishing has been significant phenomenon in everyday life. Most settlers, whether on the shoreline or not, have a direct connection with the lake, and are very knowledgeable about fish species, their food habits, fishing tools and methods. Older people still know a great deal about fishery life and have connections with the lake.

Fishing in the lake is a very difficult task, particularly when the prevailing northern winds are strong. Sudden storms create severe conditions on the open, exposed waters of the lake, endangering fisherman and making their return to the shore difficult. Local fisherman reported several deaths over the last few decades. Occasionally in winter, the fishermen have to work in freezing temperatures, find refuge for their boats along the shores, and stay there for days. During those times, the fishermen supplement their fishing activity with hunting game and birds and live eating fish and birds for several days. On the southern shore of the lake, fishing is a more social activity, and economically less important. On this side the settlements are far from the shore, making it difficult to stroll back and forth, so people build simple huts along the embankments. These huts became gathering places, particularly during the summer, when people are in their agricultural fields. This is where guests are taken and fed fish, and offered alcoholic beverages. Seyfettin, one of my informants in Salur, maintains one of these huts on the west side of the delta, and uses it while working in his bean field in the summer. Because water rises one or two meters, he may fish in the same field during winters!

The last decade also has been difficult for the area fishermen as declining resources base have not met the fishermen's expectations. This situation is not unique to Lake Manyas. There is growing evidence of a crisis in the world's fisheries. Small-scale fisheries are particularly hard hit. Two major developments seem to have created difficulty for fishermen of Lake Manyas. As elsewhere in the world (Young 1999b), gill nets, refrigeration, and motor powered skiffs have enabled more intensive, commercial harvesting of lake fisheries. Hardin (1968) explained that common property resources are inevitably overexploited and mistreated. Commonly held resources are exploited due to open access, selfishness, and their vulnerability (Berkes 1987). The same reasons are at work in Lake Manyas. In addition, ecology of the lake has changed significantly and became less favorable for economically important fish species.


Agriculture in wetland ecosystems is an ancient practice. Turner and Denevan (1985) report that old water recessional agro-ecosystems were recorded in areas such as Belize, South America, Mexico, and parts of Africa. Butzer (1976) also holds that ancient Egyptians used this method along the Nile River. This system of agriculture is procedural and requires minimal technology and labor input. The system involves the cultivation of inundated lands during the season when water recedes. Doolittle (2000) argues that this system is used in northwest Mexico and fast maturing crops are commonly harvested before the land is inundated again.

Here, I intend to give an account of agriculture on inundated rather than the regular lands around Lake Manyas. Agriculture on such areas requires attention because, particularly on the northeast and southern part of the lake, it is very important in everyday life and is economically valuable. The barricades built across the south changed this practice significantly. Therefore, first the pre-barricades period than the changes occurred after barricades are discussed here.

Traditionally agriculture is one of the most important livelihood sources for local residents. With favorable climatic conditions and good soils, the area is suitable for growing a variety of agricultural products such as wheat, sunflower, corn, and legumes (Figure 5).  

Figure 5. Sunflower is largely cultivated in inundated lands particularly around the national park.


Fruits and vegetables also play a role in agricultural production. In addition, olives, sugar beet, cotton, and barley are all cultivated, but are of secondary importance.

Before the barricades were built in the late 1980s as part of the DSI's land reclamation projects, the lake fluctuated in extent from 13,000 hectares to about 17,000 hectares during the winter months of heaviest rainfall. This seasonal shift created a zone of inundated land that has played an important role in the village economy. When the lake rose and covered the cropland, nutrient rich silt from the lake functioned as a fertilizer. Local farmers appreciated this situation and perhaps were the only ones happy about it. When water withdraws (during the short cultivation season), it was not difficult to get water if irrigation was necessary. Water could easily be extracted, either by pumping from the lake, or by digging a well. These flood-prone lands were perceived as the best lands for agriculture. However, cultivating them had problems.

Agriculture in the inundated lands has always been a risky endeavor. An unstable rainfall regime, together with the topography, created the risks. First, it was never certain that the water would withdraw from some of these lands. Sometimes it did not recede at all. Even when the water withdrew, there was no guarantee that there would be enough time for cultivation.

However, people found solutions to these kinds of uncertainties and adapted strategies to deal with the situation. In this case, farmers found the crops that have the shortest growing season so that they could be harvested before the water rose. The particular crops that fit this situation were green beans and melons, harvested in less than two months. Corn and sunflowers, although they needed more time, were also cultivated in flood-prone lands.

The largest effect of inundation was felt on the south where the offshore gradient is gentle. In earlier times, the above-mentioned risks were serious as the two largest settlements around the lake, Salur and Kýzýksa [27], completely depended on this land for their livelihood. Whenever the water rose, this land was the first to be covered and the last from which the water receded.

Although the land was fertile and suitable for cultivation, agriculture was limited by inundation. In 1930s the government began a program of water control that significantly affected agriculture around the lake margins. In those early years the government built some barricades to prevent water from covering such a large area, and for a limited time during the 1940s, farmers were able to cultivate grains in this land. However, the barricades were insufficient and eroded shortly after they were built. This was the situation of inundated lands before the latest embankments were built.

The State Water Works (DSI) started building a second set of barricades in late 1980s and since that time it has been possible to use a much larger area for winter crops (see Chapter 5). Now when the water rises, it is confined by barricades three meters high. The area outside the barricades is available for most of the year. However, land inside the barricades may on occasion still be available for cultivation when water levels are low, and this land is still perceived as being highly valuable by local farmers. [28]

Although the area between the lakeshore and barricades was purchased by the DSI in 1985 and 1986, the people of Salur, Hamamlý, Kýzýksa, and Bölceaðaç on the south side of the lake have used this area for centuries with beans and melons dominating the production. The most important of these areas has been the Kocaçay Delta area.

After the DSI completed the embankments, the delta was enclosed and subjected to continued seasonal inundation. The delta has some 3,000 dekar [29] of cultivable land, and is famous for what is known as Kazak fasulyesi, known lately as Koca fasulye [30], a type of bean. Farmers also grew green beans for the major markets around the area, including Bandýrma, Bursa, Balýkesir, and Istanbul. The delta was nationalized by the DSI in the mid-1980s. Between 1992 and 1998 the delta area remained underwater and could not be used. When water withdrew from the area in 1998, nobody, including the officials in the villages, knew what to do with the land. When the water receded in the summer of 1998, after a short period of hesitation, villagers taking the risk posed not only by water fluctuation, but also posed by the DSI's nationalization of the land, resumed cultivating the delta after several years. This occurred again in 1999 and 2000.

Cultivation begins in the southernmost part where water withdraws first. People plant beans in late May, and grow them through late July. Harvest begins in July, and goes on through early October. During these three months a local daily market exists in Salur (except Saturdays) and produce is sold after 4 p.m. The type of bean grown for fresh consumption is called brown, or kahverengi, beans, that resembles the kidney bean. The other type of bean, Koca fasulye, is grown for dry consumption and is the main ingredient for kuru fasulye, arguably the most popular dish among ordinary Turkish people.

During harvest time, the local labor supply is inadequate; it is a common practice to hire pickers from southeastern Anatolia. Kurdish visitors harvest green beans, tomatoes, melons, and cotton. They come to the region in the early summer and after finishing beans and tomatoes, they move to the Aegean region to pick cotton before returning to the southeast before winter.

My calculations, together with those of Sefer Sezgin, a native of Salur and one of my informants, showed that in 1999 about 10,000 tons of green beans were harvested from this delta with a gross market value of somewhere between $ 4 million and $ 4.5 million. This is a considerable income for the local communities. This production and trade is not officially documented; since the land was nationalized, taxes have not been paid to the government for either the soil or commerce from it. Thus, this area provides an incredibly important source of income for the villagers in Salur and Hamamlý. Conservationists, including officials of the national park, are unaware of the significance this activity plays in the daily lives of local communities. [31]

Seasonal fluctuation in the lake affects only a limited amount of land in the north and west where the slopes are steepest and water depths increase more rapidly than in other parts of the lake. This is mostly true for the east shore of the lake as well. However, the northeast, particularly the north and east side of the national park, is prone to extensive seasonal inundation. Other than the delta area, the land here is most suitable for seasonal cultivation. The farmers of Eski Sýðýrcý have some 2,000 dekar land in this area on which they plant beans, corn, sunflowers, tomatoes, and melons. After the DSI's reclamation projects, these lands stayed underwater for seven to eight years and the farmers could not use them. A small plot of land east of the village of Bereketli stayed underwater as well, but the DSI had previously purchased it hence the villagers were not eligible for compensation. However, at present, when it is not inundated the villagers use the land for pasture.

What should be apparent by now is the ambiguity and uncertainty over rights of ownership and hence usage that now affect seasonally inundated lands. Because these are the lands where water fluctuates, one can never depend solely on agriculture. Most of the land that is cultivated today was given as gifts to those people, malul hakký, who had been wounded or disabled during the Gallipoli War in 1915. These people were farmers of nearby villages and were given 20 dekars of land at the time. Eventually, because it was difficult to come from a distant village and work these lands some of the owners sold their properties to people who resided in nearby villages.

During the reclamation process in 1985-86, the DSI nationalized the land that would be affected by the projects. They bought back the land that the government had distributed at the turn of the century. Supposedly, all the land inside the barricades belongs to the DSI and they have the right to manage it. However, whenever the water recedes the farmers want to utilize the land and for the last few years this has created a problem between locals and officials. In particular, the locals want to be able to use the land inside the barricades during the summer. Yet because this land is legally owned by the government, officials at the national park and in Ankara talk about reserving this area for wildlife and creating a refuge for birds.

When the 93 Muhacirs settled along the north of the lake, they were given 50 dekar of land as right to settle, iskan hakký. Although they were given official papers allowing them to use the land, the papers were not property deeds and later, when the government wanted to appropriate this area for the national park, the descendants of the 93 Muhacirs were not paid any compensation for the land. Also, some land given to the Kabardines was acquired in 1998 to enlarge the national park.

It should be clear that some major land management problems exist around the lake. For one reason or another, [32] the farmers on the north have lost access to seasonally inundated land that was once an important source of income. They tried many times to claim some rights to the land, but whatever the reason they appear to have concluded that one cannot deal with the government over these issues. This was the case when the national park was established and extended and the locals were harmed when reclamation projects were being done. On the south, however, the confusion is still continuing. The locals want to be able to use the lands inside the barricades and force the issue. As one farmer said, "either we use this land or we use this land, there is no third option!"


Grazing is still important for lake residents, although it has gradually declined. Some parts of village lands are designated as pasture, and are used for grazing purposes only as is common throughout Turkey. Most of the year, animals are fed outside and when it is either too cold or the pastures are covered with snow, they are kept and fed inside.

Grazing around the land is losing its importance because livestock raising is a supplementary activity, and only a few families depend solely on it. Reducing the amount of seasonally inundated land, and reclaiming seasonally inundated land for permanent agriculture also reduced the amount of pastureland substantially. Some pastures, particularly in the village of Ergili, become useless when water rises and crosses the pasture in the winter.

Two types of stock raising are common: cattle breeding and sheep raising. Historically, people around the lake owned flocks of sheep. Each of these flocks had 100 to 200 sheep. However, after some pastures were converted to agricultural lands and the amount of pastures declined, the area could not support large flocks and the numbers gradually declined. Halil Çakýr, one of the flock owners said that there used to be 20 flocks of sheep in the village of Eski Sýðrcý, but now (1999) there were only seven. "The best pasture for my flock," he says, "comes from under the water after the water recedes." Some parts of the area stay clear for awhile and are not cultivated because of the associated risk. These areas provide fresh pasture for the flocks throughout the summer. The pasture areas that the lake's waters do not occupy at anytime during the year last until sometime in June. After that time the pasture that comes from the lake is valuable. These are relatively small lands on the shoreline from which water recedes for shorter period. This period is not long enough for agriculture.

Cattle breeding is another economic activity around the lake; a supplementary occupation for agriculture and fishing. The less agricultural land the communities have the more likely they are to own more cattle. The village of Bereketli would be expected to have the largest number of cattle, which is indeed the case. Because they have to use their limited land for agriculture, the cattle are kept inside for most of the year.

In each village, a herder is hired to take the cattle to the pastures. The herder might be from the village or from outside. The sheep flocks are usually herded by family members. Someone takes the flock out to the pasture for part of the day and then another family member takes over later. Cattle are more dependent on the lake than the sheep. The water provides not only fresh pasture for the cattle but also drinking water, provides cooling during the long, hot summer days. Especially when the heat is at its peak, the cattle are taken along the shoreline, grazed until the mid-day heat comes, and then taken inside to the lake. There they drink, cool off, and sometimes lie down for several hours. When the heat starts decreasing and they feel more comfortable, they are taken to the pasture again until dark.

Not every shoreline is suitable for this type of activity because most parts have mud and are not good for resting. The sheep flocks, on the other hand, are grazed during the night to escape the summer heat, and rested during the day.


Hunting has played an important role in the lives of the local communities for centuries. Historical sources (Çelebi 1658) suggest that hunting was restricted to those who bought permits. However, the Ottoman Salname [33] dated 1900, indicated that although the area was rich in game birds, there were not many hunters (Fýndýkoðlu 1966). As hunting has been and continues to be an important activity, many people know about various bird species and hunting methods.

The first type of hunting is open-air shooting in which the hunter aims at a flying bird. This is the most common type of hunting and requires a degree of sophistication in using the guns properly. Master hunters never fire at birds flying in a group. Ramazan Solak, a well-known hunter from Bereketli, gets angry at young hunters who fire guns indiscriminately at a group, killing one and maybe wounding several others. Ramazan instead fires only at a bird flying alone and makes sure that he hits the target. Maybe this was why a staff member at the national park stated that he wished every hunter were like Ramazan.

This type of hunting is not only commonly practiced among locals but by outside hunters. These hunters come from nearby cities and are usually government officials working for different departments. Hunting activities declined significantly when the lake area was declared a wildlife protection area in 1977. Supposedly nobody can hunt inside the road that surrounds the lake and the staff at the national park are responsible for enforcing the law. However, according to their accounts, many times they have caught people who were judges or army commanders creating difficulties for the national park staff. [34]

The second type of hunting is done with a device called güme, a hunter's blind. This is a little hut constructed from wire and cloth. The hunter hauls it to the lakeshore, covers it up with vegetation and stays inside. Birds do not notice that there is a man-made object there. The hunter either tapes the voice of a duck and uses it to attract ducks or other birds, or ties one or two ducks by their legs outside the güme. When these ducks call, wild ducks approach close to the blind. The ducks that the hunter ties outside the güme are valuable and sold for a good price because they are trained to make noise. Waterfowl are consumed locally and at the present time there are no markets for them. Since 1977, the use of güme has been banned by law. However, the tradition continues and the staff of the national park destroyed more than 1,200 güme between 1977 and 1987 (Seyhan 1990).

The staff at the national park tries to enforce the law that bans hunting around the lake. Whenever they catch a hunter, they confiscate his equipment and press a lawsuit in the local court in Bandýrma. If the hunter is found guilty the equipment is sold by public auction, and the hunter either pays a fine or, depending on the situation, might be imprisoned. This is a very difficult situation because some of the park staff are from the village of Eski Sýðýrcý, and are reluctant to prosecute fellow villagers. This situation also discourages the local national park staff because they already operate under disadvantages. First, the area within which hunting is restricted is too large to be controlled from the national park, and park staff has virtually no control over the southern and western shores. Second, most of the time they keep their designated vehicle 11 miles away in Bandýrma. If they decide to go to the scene to investigate an incident it takes more than one hour to get there, by which time the hunter is gone. Finally, after business hours, one caretaker stays through the night at the park. If there is a violation he cannot leave the national park to investigate. So it is practically impossible to enforce the law most of the time with the current schedule at the national park.


1 Daskyleion is an antique settlement on the southeast corner of the lake. It was inhabited from 7th century BC. until the time of Byzantine.

2 There were settlements to the south of the lake established earlier but they were away from the lakeshore.

3 When the Ottomans started to lose control of the Crimea and Caucasus the Muslim populations of these regions relocated first to north Balkans. Further contraction of the Ottoman Empire led to a second wave of migration with Anatolia the destination.

4 Fýndýkoðlu (1966) documents that Russia and the United States started large campaigns to get the Cossacks to their countries. In 1962 most of them migrated to the Kuban region of Russia and few came to the United States.

5 Karpat (1990) estimates that a total of five to seven million people immigrated into the Ottoman Empire between 1860 and 1914. Migration from the Balkans and Caucasus into Anatolia is a neglected field of study although the immigrants significantly altered the social, demographic, political and economic conditions of both their origins and destinations. The event is so significant at the local level that after generations, people still call themselves migrants, muhacirs, although few migrants are alive today.

6 Turan (1998) states that after the 1877-78 War, more than a million Muslims left their homes and properties and escaped to Anatolia despite the harsh circumstances of the winter. During these migrations hundreds of thousands of people died of hunger and cold. Muhacirs of Eski Sýðýrcý still remember the sorrowful stories of their grandfathers.

7 Before 1924, the 1912 Balkan War produced another flow of migrants but no migrants in the study area identified themselves with that incident

8 This is the Ottoman name for the village. During the Republican period the name was changed to Eski Sýðýrcý and to Kuþ Cennetý in 1991.

9 Pomaks are native Slavic people of southern Bulgaria and northern Greece who converted to Islam a long time ago. Eminov suggests that the Pomaks, claimed by Bulgarians as being Bulgarian and by Turks as being Turkish, try to support an identity separate from Bulgarians and Turks. A tale of Pomaks holds that they are the descendants of ancient Thracians who converted to Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries A.D.

10 Turkish-Greek population exchange was agreed upon in the Lausanne treaty on January 30, 1923 and some 1.5 million people moved bilaterally excluding the Greeks of Istanbul and the Turks of Western Thrace. For a detailed study of this exchange see Arý (1995).

11 The old name for this village is Sýðýrcý Mecidiye.

12 Although humiliating jokes about other groups particularly the Kabardines and Cossacks are common, there has not been a major conflict among different groups.

13 My informant Osman Sevinç who is one of the six living people who migrated from Greece, said that in Kavala, their village, Kurita, was located further from the coast on the hills and they procured their livelihoods from agriculture. One wonders what caused this food avoidance. We know that it was not a religious order, as Islam allows fish eating (Koran 16:14; 5:96) and most schools of thought would teach that whatever comes from the sea can be eaten. Hanafi order, one of the four major denominations in Islam, on the other hand, prohibits all, but fish. Most people in Turkey follow the Hanafi order.

14 During the years of population exchange between Greece and Turkey, the Turkish government did extended studies to determine the occupation of migrants and the physical characteristics of the places they were migrating from. In this way, they were hoping to minimize the negative effects of the exchange. However, things did not work out as they planned, and some migrants had to deal with unfamiliar natural settings (see Arý 1995).

15 Mültezims tried to use their government connections to prevent the villagers from establishing the co-op. In the early years they had local fisherman's licenses cancelled several times.

16 It was regarded as such an important event in the village that the villagers celebrated it by slaughtering animals, playing halay, and beating the drum. This is a common form of celebration among ordinary people in Turkey.

17 After the establishment, the co-op rented the lake through the Ministry of Finance without a bidding because of political motivations.

18 A well-known story among villagers in Bereketli reports that a fisherman, Ramazan Solak, made 18,000 Turkish Lira (a considerable amount of money at the time) in one day. After collecting the money, he was so happy on his way back home that he threw the money around and shouted "What am I going to do with this money, how can one spend this much money?" Eventually he was spending the money to have a taxicab bring a Marlboro cartoon (available only in black markets at the time) from Erdek, a town 40 miles away. He stated in a personal interview that now he did not have money for his medical expenses.

19 State-run discounted stores (TANZA--Tanzim Satýþ) opened in nearly every city at that time.

20 Some of this early renting seems to have been motivated by politics. A well-known story among villagers in Eski Sýðýrcý and Yeni Sýðýrcý reports that the chairman of the Breketli co-op, Izzetting Yaþbek, visited Süleyman Demirel, then the prime minister, and asked him for the rent. When he was leaving, referring to fishermen from these two villages, he reportedly told Demirel that "he should not let those people rent the lake because they were communists."

21 Vole refers to the activity, which starts with the positioning and ends with sending the catch to the shore.

22 When I tried to get official production numbers the official at the local branch of the Ministry of Agriculture in Bandýrma said that they had an official number but it did not reflect the reality. He gave the real number after looking at ceiling for a short period of calculation (he was trying to figure out how much he needed to add to the official written record). Also when in Eski Sýðýrcý, the co-op officials carefully avoided showing or giving me the real numbers.

23 One local fisherman said he believed the oil of this fish was even very good for heart disease because it is "very thin."

24 In that matter Kazancý, et al. argued that the most important ecological problem of the lake is not pollution or reclamation but sedimentation. They concluded that 20 percent of the lake was already lost because of sedimentation.

25 Because villagers were used to water and boats, when they served in the Turkish Military, a compulsory duty for every male Turk, they were mostly selected for the Navy.

26 If somebody decides to get married, one of the important conditions of the bride would be if the groom owns an apartment in one of the nearby cities.

27 Each of these settlements has had a population of more than 2,000 since 1954 the year in which they became municipalities.

28 Local farmers reported that the area outside the embankments (used to be inundated) has now problems with water level and drainage and less productive compared to the pre-embankment period.

29 Four dekars equals one Acre.

30 Kazak is the Turkish term for Cossacks.

31 See Chapter 6 for details.

32 See Chapters 5 and 6.

33 Salnames include Ottoman counts of population and economic activities

34 The staff reminded me of a famous Turkish saying "If you go to court with the judge, Allah help you!"