The Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) organized a workshop to present a fact sheet entitled “Gaza Strip Fishermen: Continued steadfastness under Israeli occupation collective punishment”. The workshop was held as a part of PNGO responsibilities and commitments to defend the Palestinian people legitimate national rights in accordance with the resolutions of the international legitimacy.
Mr. Amjad Al Shawa, the director of PNGO in the Gaza Strip, , started the workshop speaking that the Israeli occupation has not complied with the understandings related to the expansion of the allowed fishing area, which has been deliberately reduced, and he mentioned that the annual per capita of the fish consumption in the Gaza Strip which estimated at 2 kg per year while the average per capita in the world isn’t less than 20 Kg per year.
For his part, Mohammed Al Bakri, director of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), referred to the ongoing Israeli occupation’s violations against the fishing sector, stressing the role of local and international civil society organizations (CSOs) in forming campaigns to pressure on the occupation authorities to stop the violations committed against fishermen.
Director General of Fisheries Department in the Ministry of Agriculture, Eng. Adel Attallah, spoke about the efforts exerted to revive the fishing sector, pointing to the significant decline in aid provided to the fishermen. He pointed out that the fisherman’s income was up to $ 30,000 annually in 2005, while it does not exceed $ 3000 a year since the blockade on the Gaza Strip was imposed. He added that fishermen are unable to rehabilitate their fishing boats and the currently existed boats cannot exceed 10 nautical miles.
The fact sheet, prepared and reviewed by PNGO, also showed that between 2015 and 2018, the Israeli occupation authorities prohibited fishermen from reaching more than six nautical miles while they allowed the fishing boats to reach nine miles for specific periods. Moreover, the restrictions deprived fishermen from exploiting the allowed fishing area according to Oslo accords. It’s worth mentioning that the fishermen in the Gaza Strip are prohibited from exploiting 82% of the area allowed by Oslo Accords.
The fact sheet as well mentioned that the agricultural sector’s contribution to the Palestine’s GDP in 2018 reached 3%; of which fish and fishing also represented 3%.
It is stressed in the factsheet that the reduction of fishing range affect the economic rights of fishermen, as Israeli occupation’s banning the entry of fishing equipment, engines, tools and spare parts for the maintenance and repair of boats forced many boats to stop and as well affected a large segment of workers in the associated jobs to the fishing sector, such as boats’ manufacturing and maintenance workshops.
The fact sheet recommended that the international community to effectively pressure for expanding the fishing areas, lifting the maritime blockade on the fishermen, and holding the Israeli occupation accountable for the consequences of its practices.
The fact sheet also recommended to raise the issue of compensation for human and material losses, lift the ban imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities on all fishing and boat maintenance equipment, and repeal the list of dual-use items and allow the entry of fishing materials of all kinds.
The fact sheet called on the donor countries to provide appropriate support to the fishing sector and support studies and researches to protect the fishing sector and preserve the fisheries, and provide financial support to fishermen and their families in order to maintain their standard of living.
The fact sheet also called on the local authorities to intensify efforts to preserve the fisherman’s rights and develop a national strategic plan to promote and develop the fisheries sector. It also called to preserve the marine environment and enact a law to preserve marine life and develop fishing laws that determine the time and place of fishing.
The fact sheet called to exempt fishermen from all types of taxes and duties; including the fuel tax, activate the “Palestinian Disaster Risk Reduction and Insurance Fund” and include the fishermen within the involved categories and beneficiaries. It also called to develop suitable wharfs for fishermen to protect their properties and provide practical alternatives to fishermen during the periods of fish breeding.