After Turkey took back her right to operate ships in her own territorial waters and shores (Cabotage Right) from foreigners, with the Lausanne Treaty in 1923, ships belonging to the public and private sectors started to carry cargo and passengers among the Turkish ports and piers. In the following years, the functions for the development of the sea transportation was assumed by the Ministry of Transportation.

At present, an Undersecretariat responsible for maritime affairs has been established and is connected to a separate State Ministry. The activities are continuing concerning the formation of a Ministry of Maritime Affairs in the near future. The maritime lines preserves its dominance in the international cargo transportation.

Sea transportation is very important for Turkey which is surrounded by seas on three sides. The total length of the coastlines in Turkey is 8,333 km and there are a total of 156 ports of different capacity, 14 marinas with tourism operations certificates, 9 marinas with tourism investment certificates and 128 fisherman shelters. In 1998, the total tonnage of the Turkish maritime fleet reached 10 million DWT, excluding the ships which were rented.

The number of ships over 300 gross tons is 916. The share of the Turkish maritime fleet in foreign transportation was 33.6 as of the end of 1998. The Ro-Ro voyages between Turkey and Italy are carried out by 10 ship. Moreover, the Ro-Ro voyages also operate on lines such as the Samsun-Novorossiysk, Samsun-Il'ichevsk, Trabzon-Sochi and Istanbul-Odessa. The privatization activities continue for ships operated by the Turkish Maritime Enterprises Corporation and the Maritime Transportation Turkish Corporation, to further increase the effectiveness of activities related to sea transportation.