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How to reform Israeli fisheries To the benefit of man and nature

 
 

Photography: Alon Rothschild

Alon Rothschild, Biodiversity Policy Coordinator, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel
alon@spni.org.il

Israeli Mediterranean fisheries hold substantial public benefits, despite its minor contribution to annual fish consumption. It provides protein-rich and locally produced food, a source of livelihood for approximately 1,000 commercial fishermen and a source for outdoor recreation for some 70,000 sport fishermen.

However, Israeli Mediterranean fisheries are in a state of a continuous ecological, economic and social crisis, as a result of mismanagement (or more accurately, non-management) by the fisheries department in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Substantial declines in yield and efficiency has been reported, alongside negative cross impacts between different segments of the fleet, especially between trawl fishermen and artisanal and sport fishermen. For example, 70% of trawl catch are juvenile fish, many of them are target species (as mature fish) for artisanal and sport fishermen. The economic damage of trawl fishing has been estimated at 860 million NIS.

100,000 protected animals are harmed by fishing activities annually, including sharks, rays and sea turtles.

The reform was constructed based on the best available knowledge, and with a comprehensive stakeholder engagement process.

The reform aims to change the fleet’s composition to a more selective one, using a buy-out scheme to eliminate trawler fishing.

Management regulations should be implemented on all remaining fishermen, including a breeding season moratorium, a regional maximum- effort cap, a bag limit for sport fishermen and the establishment of no-take zones. All alongside an upgrade in enforcement capacity.

The reform’s cost is estimated at 80-100 million NIS, and can be easily funded over a 7 year period with joint funding from ministries of Agriculture, Treasury and Environment, and Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority. Revenues are expected from an increase in license fees and cancelling trawlers’ fuel subsidy.

Until such a reform takes place, SPNI is promoting a voluntary code of conduct for sport fishermen, a mobile application for the public to report illegal fishing (“Sea Watch”), and appealing to the Supreme Court to demand the inclusion of the most acutely needed management tools in newly issued fishing licenses.

 

Link to a lecture given as part of: Batsheva de Rothschild Seminar, Environmental Science and Policy – Challenges in the South Eastern Mediterranean, November 17, 2015 Nir Etzion, Israel

 

Read here an article from the Jerusalem post | January 2017