Decimation of Palestine’s fishing industry, Palestine

Palestine's fishing industry and fisher-people's livelihoods devastated by Israel's closure of Palestine's maritime waters for military purposes and to protect gas exploration, platforms and pipelines.


Description

Fishing is one of main pillars of Palestinian economy in the Gaza Strip. Since 1967, Israel has inflicted onerous ad hoc restrictions on Palestinian fishermen operating off the Gaza Coast and rendered 85% of the maritime space in Gaza inaccessible. Under the Oslo Agreements, the fishing range was 20 nautical miles (approximately 37 km). However, over the years, the Israeli military has gradually reduced this range, severely damaging the livelihood of thousands of families and the availability of this basic and inexpensive food in the markets, which had served as a significant nutritional source. Data from the UN agency, OCHA indicate that, between 2000 and 2010, the number of fishermen in Gaza dropped from about 10,000 to fewer than 4,000 [2].  Israel’s consecutive military attacks on the Gaza Strip and the deliberate targeting of vital infrastructure and damage to sewage facilities have had serious environmental consequences destroying vital fish habitats. All aspects of Palestinian fishing industry have been impacted from attacks on fishermen, willful killing, unlawful detentions, and the forced removal of fishermen from occupied territory. The closure of Gaza's sea and land buffer has crippled the economy and reduced the supply of fish, a protein rich source of food. This in a situation where 57 percent of the population in the Gaza Strip, are currently food insecure.   In 2000, the reduction of the fishing zone to 6 nautical miles (nm) resulted in widespread food shortages, with wholesalers reporting 100 percent fish shortages in the West Bank and 33 percent fish shortages in Gaza. Further the restrictions on fishing since 2001 have “led to intensive, close-shore fishing which has depleted stocks from the natural breeding grounds and threatened the fisheries resource base” [1]. This range is sometimes further reduced to 3 (nm) [2].  To enforce the closure, Israel routinely attacks Palestinian fishermen using live ammunition, and arrests, detains and removes protected Palestinian civilian fishermen beyond the borders of the occupied territory. Israel’s navy also routinely seizes Palestinian fishing boats charging a substantial 500 NIS fee for their return, amounting to unlawful requisition [1,2].

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Basic Data
NameDecimation of Palestine’s fishing industry, Palestine
CountryPalestine
SiteGaza Strip
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Aquaculture and fisheries
Water access rights and entitlements
Specific CommoditiesBiological resources
Fish
Water
Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAll aspects of Palestinian fishing industry have been impacted from attacks on fishermen, willful killing, unlawful detentions, and the forced removal of fishermen from occupied territory. The closure of Gaza's sea and land buffer has crippled the economy and reduced the supply of fish, a protein rich source of food, to the point that 57 percent of the population in the Gaza Strip, are currently food insecure.

Israel has forced a closure of the Gaza Strip to protect the gas interests of local and international companies. The primary companies involved in the Yam Tethy's joint venture for the Mari-B lease include United States corporation Noble Energy (operator) (47 percent) and Israeli corporations Delek Drilling (25.5 percent) Svner (23 percent) Delek Investment (4.4 percent). While the main companies operating the Tamar lease and using Mari-B and the El-Arish pipeline are United States corporation Noble Energy (operator) (36 percent) and Israeli corporations Isramco Negav 2 (28.75 percent) Delek Drilling (16.62 percent) Avner (15.62 percent) Dor Gas (4 percent).

Financing for the gas projects: On 27 August 2015, Noble Energy and NBL International Finance B.V216 concluded an agreement with JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. as administrative agent, Citibank N.A., as syndication agent and Bank of America, N.A., Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., Mizuho Bank Ltd. and DNB Bank ASA, New York Branch as documentation agents for financing for their Mediterranean energy projects [1]
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected PopulationOverall population of the Gaza Strip 1.7 million
Start Date08/03/1996
Company Names or State EnterprisesNOBLE ENERGY from United States of America - Private actors also benefit from the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources. For example, Noble Energy, a US company that enjoys a monopoly over Israel's gas resources, along with Israeli companies Delek Drilling and Avner Oil exploited gas from the Noa well in 2012. This gas field runs into the Palestinian sea and is contiguous with Palestine’s border field. Any cojoint exploitation of the field required a cooperation agreement under customary international law. Palestinians were not consulted and the wells were unilaterally depleted in violation of customary international law. Any depletion of the border field from the Israeli side (likely due to the accelerated processing which was sanctioned in light of Israel’s gas shortages) also violates Article 55 of the Hague Regulations and amounts to pillage.
GIVOT OLAM from Israel - Israeli oil company Givot Olam has exploited oil from the Meged-5 well. The oil has been unilaterally developed from the Israeli side but the well extends into Rantis in the West Bank. Israel has zoned the adjoining land on the Palestinian side as a military training zone, thereby preventing Palestinian access to their sovereign natural resources. The exploitation violates customary international law on conjoint development of contiguous resources, violates Article 55 of the Hague Regulations and amounts to pillage.
Delek Drilling from Israel
Isramco Negav from Israel
Svner from Israel
Dor Gas from Israel
Relevant government actorsIsraeli Occupying Forces
International and Financial InstitutionsJP Morgan Chase (JPM) from United States of America
Citybank from United States of America
Bank of America (BofA) from United States of America
The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFG) from Japan
Mizuho Bank from Japan
DNB Bank from Germany
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAl-Haq Organization

B'Tselem
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginUNKNOWN
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
OtherCoastal aquifers pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Malnutrition, Other Health impacts
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts, Loss of livelihood
Potential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseDeaths
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Palestine's fishing industry has been devastated by Israel's lethal military naval closure of the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the obvious international human rights and international humanitarian law violations, securing criminal prosecutions and taking civil actions abroad against corporations has proved difficult.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Hague Regulations (1907), the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) and the Additional Protocol I (1977), UN Declaration on Human Rights, Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of the ILO

References

Al-Haq, 'Israel’s Deadly Catch: Israel Systematically Attacks Gaza’s Fishermen' (Report, 2015).
[click to view]

B’Tselem, Lift the Restrictions on the Gaza Fishing Range (24 March 2013)
[click to view]

Media Links

This video presents the stories of three fisherman from the Gaza Strip who have difficulty earning a living because of the blockade and the army’s harsh restrictions on fishing off the coast.
[click to view]

Other Documents

Fishermen at Gaza's fishing port. Photo by Suhaib Salem, Reuters, 4 April 2016 Fishermen at Gaza's fishing port. Photo by Suhaib Salem, Reuters, 4 April 2016
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The Gaza fishing docks. Boats grounded due to fuel shortage, 21 January 2014. B'Tselem http://www.btselem.org/photoblog/20140129_gaza_fishermen The Gaza fishing docks. Boats grounded due to fuel shortage, 21 January 2014. B'Tselem

http://www.btselem.org/photoblog/20140129_gaza_fishermen
[click to view]

The Gaza fishing docks. Boats grounded due to fuel shortage, 21 January 2014. B'Tselem The Gaza fishing docks. Boats grounded due to fuel shortage, 21 January 2014. B'Tselem

http://www.btselem.org/photoblog/20140129_gaza_fishermen
[click to view]

Demonstration against Israel's restrictions on fishing range, Gaza, 2 December, 2013. Photo: B'Tselem Demonstration against Israel's restrictions on fishing range, Gaza, 2 December, 2013. Photo: B'Tselem

http://www.btselem.org/photoblog/20140129_gaza_fishermen
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAl-Haq Organization, [email protected]
Last update10/07/2017
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