Gaza fishermen are now able to sail further out to fish but commercial fish farming may be a better option
Environmental and economic issues facing Palestinians living in Gaza have gone from bad to worse since the previous Cast Lead conflict between Gaza and Israel in 2008 – 2009. This is especially true following the most recent conflict, Pillar of Defense, just now put on hold with an Egyptian-brokered cease fire. Water problems, especially involving flooding by waste water, and a dire shortage of fresh water, may make the strip unlivable by 2020 and its water undrinkable by 2016.
Gaza fishermen have been especially hard pressed due to the Israeli naval blockade in the Mediterranean that recently restricted fisherman from sailing more than three miles out into the sea to fish.
The Israel navy has eased this restriction a bit, now allowing Gazan fishermen to sail out as far as six miles to fish as part of the recent cease fire agreement. As reported in the media, the previous 3 mile limit had been imposed to prevent smuggling of arms and other contraband into Gaza, much of which has come from Iran.
Sea fishing has always been a way of life for many Gazans; but restrictions imposed by Israel, as well as environmental changes in the sea itself, have resulted in smaller and more expensive supplies of fresh fish available in local markets.
Ekhail’s fish farm
To help solve this problem, outside assistance to help local Gazans establish commercial fish farms is a viable way to enable residents there to have larger and more reasonably priced quantities of fish available as a high protein food source.
A previously posted Green Prophet article reported that an on-land fish farm had been established near Gaza City by a man named Sohail Ekhail. The small fish farm had been successful in growing quantities of fish such as grey and red tilapia, known commonly as “moosht” by locals . Whether this fish farm was able to survive the recent onslaught remains to be known, however.
Growing commercial quantities of fish with limited area and water resources is a project that is currently being tried in Israel’s Negev region by aquaculture specialists and based on an idea formulated by a professor at Hebrew University.
Researchers involved in this project who say that it is possible to “grow fish anywhere, commercially and safely, in both cities and deserts” claim that viable quantities of fish can be grown successfully in small plastic pools supplied with a brackish or partially saline water source. This means that water that may not be suitable for drinking by humans can be successfully used for such aquaculture projects.
A Negev aquaculture fish farm
Finding solutions that would help the people of Gaza establish their own fish farms and reclaim sewage water should be shared by Israel with Gaza as a means of providing large quantities of fresh, protein-rich fish for the people living there.
Gaza Port photo by AP
Read more on fishing and environmental issues affecting people living in Gaza: