The Turkish ministry of transport has increased transit fees through the Black Sea straits, AgriCensus reported local media as saying.

According to local media, the fees to transit the Dardanelles and Bosporus Straits – currently the only way to transport cargo from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean – have been increased five-fold from US$0.8/tonne to US$4/tonne.

Following the signing of the Montreux Convention in 1936, Turkey has been able to charge lighthouse, rescue and medical fees from ships passing through the Bosporus and entering and leaving the Dardanelles, AgriCensus wrote.

This is the first time the country has increased fees since 1983, according to the 30 August report.

Originally calculated in French francs – accepted by the United Nations as the gold franc – the fees switched to US dollars based on the Turkish lira exchange rate following the franc’s removal from circulation, AgriCensus wrote.

According to the Daily Sabah, increasing inflation has led to Turkey undercharging for transit through the straits, and it estimates the current increase will boost the country's income from straits transit from US$40M to US$200M.

However, the impact on freight rates would be minimal, with the biggest estimate for small vessels around US$1/tonne, falling to as low as 25 cents for Capesize-vessels, AgriCensus quoted trade sources as saying.

According to Ukraine-based freight analytical agency ISM, total costs for a handy-size carrier of 31,500 deadweight tonnage (dwt) and 11,200 net register tonnage (NRT) passing through the Turkish straits passage will increase by US$21,630, or an additional US$0.68/tonne per dwt cargo in freight equivalent.

For grain cargoes using Panamax or Kamsarmax vessels, costs would increase by US$33,000-US$35,000, or around US$0.5-0.55/tonne per dwt cargo, ISM was quoted as saying.

As the fees represent less than 1% of total freight rate, the increase in charges will not have a huge impact on shipping costs, according to the report.