The Final days of a Fishing Fleet
Gaza Strip, occupied Palestinian territory
In 2000 the United Nations estimated there were 10,000 fishermen working with in the Gaza Strip by July 2013 in was recorded as 3,500. The plight of Gaza’s fishing industry is a story of a continual decline not attributable to a lack of fish in the sea but restrictions imposed on the distance the fishermen can travel from Gaza’s shore line to fish the best waters. Fishermen have fallen from, in there own words, being some of Gaza’s richest citizens to a position calculated by the United Nations where 90% of them are now dependent on international aid. The internationally recognised limit of territorial fishing waters is 12 nautical miles. However, the distances the Gaza fishing fleet can travel have become a political football and seen by Palestinians as further evidence of a collective form of punishment imposed on them within the Gaza Strip. Fishermen’s lives have been lost and boats and nets impounded in a continual game of cat and mouse with the Israeli navy as it enforces the nautical limits it is deemed they are allowed to fish within. The recent cease-fire brokered to end the 51 days of Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ is supposed to enshrine the Palestinian fishing fleet’s operating from Gaza the right to travel to 12 nautical miles. So far 6 miles has been intermittently permitted but as yet there is no sign of the agreed gradual extension to 12 nautical miles where the best fish stocks linger. Indeed the reverse now seems to be being imposed and the fishing distance once again is shrinking.