Palestine-Israel Tensions: The Israeli blockade's effect on Palestinian fish farms in Gaza
Palestinians in Gaza are trying to end their reliance on Israeli fish imports as Tel Aviv continues to expand its command of the sea. Noor Harazeen tells us more from Gaza.
Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip has made it nearly impossible for local Palestinian fishermen to make a living these days. As fishermen are barred from fishing beyond six nautical miles from their coastline. For many here in Gaza, seafood, is a basic meal. But Gaza is no longer rich in fish as it used to be, due to Israel's maritime blockade. The Palestinian Agriculture Ministry confirms the amount of fish caught daily represents less than 20% of the needs of Gaza residents. The appetite for local fish has promoted the opening of a few private fish farms. The farms aim to supply local markets with another source of fish at affordable prices. Jumaa Badawi is the owner of Al-Bahar, one of the most successful of four fish farms in Gaza. His farm sits on a small rise above a beach and looks out over the frontline of the Mediterranean Sea alongside its restaurant and aquarium.
JUMAA BADAWI DIRECTOR OF A FISH FARM "We headed for the establishment of fish farms due to the Israeli naval blockade imposed on Gaza and the small quantities of bream. But we are facing other problems. As you know, the fish in the farms always need food -- these feeds we import from the Israeli or Egyptian sides. When comparing with other countries, prices are very high for imports from Israel."
Despite the success of his project, Badawi says that his business faces mounting costs as he has to buy the required seeds and fish food from Israel twice a week. However, Palestinian Engineer Wael Mssalm, found a solution to provide fish food locally, he worked on opening the first water farm for azolla in Gaza. Azolla is a plant that grows in water and is used to feed fish. His project will greatly reduce the import of high-priced fish feed from Israel.
WAEL MSSLAM AGRICULTURAL ENGINEER "We're suffering from the high cost of feeds in Gaza. Everything we produce is without profit. We have sought ideas to meet these challenges. Our friend, Dr. Suhail Ayesh, introduced us to this azolla plant. We brought it to Gaza late last year. After a number of failed attempts, we succeeded and production is starting to improve."
Hoping to end Gaza's reliance on imports from Israel, fish farmers seem to have learned an important lesson from a historical Chinese proverb: "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." Noor Harazeen, CGTN, Gaza.