Bridges for Peace, November 14, 2011.
The Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) successfully completed a fish farming development project that started this year. Instructed by Israeli experts, Palestinian farmers learned about the branch, developing Gaza Strip economy and becoming less dependent on Israel.
A select group of Palestinian farmers attended a series of lectures and workshops in Israel, familiarizing with the fish farming field. The project first emerged in 2010 due to conflict between the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Navy and fishermen breaking the maritime closure. The goal of the project is to create an independent economy in the Gaza Strip capable of providing for its population.
“We believe this is the future of the fish farming field,” explained the CLA’s agricultural coordinator, Mr. Uri Madar. “Among the Gaza civilian population, there is high demand for fish, and we were looking for a solution for this need.”
Throughout the year, Palestinian farmers constructed dozens of pools using the knowledge and experience of Israeli experts. During 2010, 150 tons of fish were produced using artificial pools, and the trend is expected to continue growing. “This is already a large percentage of the overall fish production, though we hope to reduce the import of fish,” said Mr. Madar.
The CLA provides local farmers with high level knowledge including fish species, sanitation methods, food types, growing methods and various procedures. Additionally, items necessary for fish farming are transferred into the Gaza Strip, including special food mixtures, oxygen stirring tools and more.
Other international organizations, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN and a Swedish organization are also involved in the project and assist in the construction of artificial fish pools. According the Mr. Madar, the project is also supported by the Hamas government agriculture offices. Although Israel has no interaction with the Hamas, it is clear the government supports and does not prevent the project’s development.
The fish farms are generally located along the shore in the southern and central Gaza Strip. The fish are cheaper and of higher quality than regular fishing, enabling an improvement of local economy. “We believe the growth will continue and that within ten years the majority of fish consumption will be based on artificial fish pools,” explained Mr. Madar.