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Fishing for a living in Gaza

Palestine Remix is an interactive tool that allows users to view or use parts of various Al Jazeera documentary films on Palestine to create their own productions. As part of a blog series MEMO will be remixing one video every week, highlighting an aspect of life in Palestine or an issue related to the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Our third Palestine Remix video takes a quick look at Gaza's fishing industry and what the sea means to Gaza's residents. You can read part I & II here.

In recent years, and particularly after the imposition of the siege over the Gaza Strip, industries which rely on the sea have been hit. The naval blockade has led to the complete closure of the seaport, leaving it void of activity. Israeli restrictions prohibiting Palestinian fishermen in Gaza from travelling more than three nautical miles off the coast have also greatly hindered local industries while completely devastating the fishing industry, limiting the catch and pushing many fisherman out of business.

Fishermen who still own boats and are able to get hold of fishing equipment, something that has become difficult in itself under siege, are subject to live fire from Israeli monitoring boats as well as arbitrary arrests and the confiscation of their equipment. According to OCHA, limiting the fishing zone in Gaza has resulted in the erosion of livelihoods. The loss to income has been estimated to be $26.5 million over a period of five years.

Owing to its position on the Mediterranean, Gaza has historically been reliant on the bounties of the sea. Its residents have always made a living from fishing, and the port was used to both import and export goods. Even local cuisine owes many of its dishes to the various fish which have traditionally swam along its shores, these include "zibdiyit gambari" a dish of shrimp stew. As a result, Gaza's cultural and economic fabric has been cut as a result of the siege.

Israel's policy "violates international laws requiring an occupying power to ensure the way of life and the rights of occupied peoples are not disrupted, and it further violates the Oslo Accords, which stipulate that Gaza fishermen be granted access to a zone of the sea expanding 20 nautical miles from the shore," Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights stressed.

Gaza's seaport is itself changing; water levels are decreasing owing to sand, mud and fishing sediments, and the lack of dredging equipment. As a result, fishermen in Gaza are in constant fear that it may shut-down, preventing them from docking their boats and providing for their families.

 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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