Last update:
2017-07-10

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
Name of conflict:Decimation of Palestine’s fishing industry, Palestine
Country:Palestine
Location of conflict:Gaza 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 :Water access rights and entitlements
Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific commodities:Natural Gas
Biological resources
Water
Fish
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

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, to the point that 57 percent of the population in the Gaza Strip, are currently food insecure.

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Type of populationRural
Affected Population:Overall population of the Gaza Strip 1.7 million
Start of the conflict:08/03/1996
Company names or state enterprises:NOBLE 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 actors:Israeli Occupying Forces
International and Finance 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 organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Al-Haq Organization
B'Tselem
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageUnknown
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsCoastal aquifers pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Malnutrition, Other Health impacts
Socio-economical 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
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

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 to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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
[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]

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]

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
Contributor:Al-Haq Organization, [email protected]
Last update10/07/2017
Comments
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