Reference : V-P-IL-E-02967
Date : 08/11/2016
Caption : Gaza. Mamadou Sow, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Gaza, accompanies a group of fishermen to watch closely the hardship and the struggle they go through. Mamadou helps fishermen unload the fish and bring it to market to be sold, after 24 hours at sea.
Photographer : ZANOUN, Ezz
Person appearing :
SOW, Mamadou (head of sub-delegation, ICRC)
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : At the beginning of their journey, the fishermen try to find a proper spot to park their boats to start their work. Since the area they fish in is limited, sometimes they aren’t able to find any fish.
Each fishing round takes about three hours of waiting following throwing the fishnets into the sea. To attract the fish, they use strong lights and wait. After the fish gets into the net, they start pulling it.
After pulling the fishing nets, the fishermen separate the different types of fish, and preserve them in a fridge inside the boat.
Fahmi, 20 years old, studies law at Al-Azhar University in Gaza. He is newly married, and works as a fisherman to pursue his education and support his family at the same time. He is a joyful lively man who likes to talk, joke and have fun with everyone. He distributes his time between fishing, studying, and being a husband. He said, “I have been going fishing with my family since I was a kid.” He remembers how worried about his father he was everyday he left for fishing, recalling all the challenges and risks he faced. He says he has become familiar with all of that when he himself started working as a fisherman. "Earning a living is extremely hard nowadays, especially with the limited resources. I work all night long and putting my life at danger, but unfortunately, I cannot meet the basic needs of life with the little amount of fish we get. Sometimes, I work all night in vain and I fish nothing."
At dawn, we had some fun listening to some songs and music at the bottom of the boat, where the fishermen could have a little rest. Fahmi said, “I manage sometimes to find a moment to relax during work. If I were not working now, I would have been with my wife and family”.
Fahmi commented on the presence of the ICRC staff with them on the boat saying, “I find it hard to believe that this man is the head of the Red Cross, he seems just like one of us."

Fishing in Gaza:
• Gaza’s fishermen are only allowed to fish within 6 nautical miles off the coast due to the Israeli naval blockade. Expanding the fishing zone would positively and considerably change the lives of 4000 fishermen and their families (24,000)
• Fishing within the 6nm limit restricts Gazan fishermen to catching the juvenile fish. It limits the value of the catch and is environmentally damaging, contributing to the unsustainability of the fisheries.
• Fishing is an essential component of the Gaza economy, which suffers from the highest unemployment in the world, notably among the youth. Aggravated by continued restrictions it severely hampers any possibility to rebuild a normal and viable economy.
• Fishermen's lives are not easy. They work in the midst of the sea, at odd hours and under all weather conditions. This is not different in Gaza but worsened by the economic and movement restrictions they are subjected to. Those restrictions have undermined the fishing sector in the last ten years.
• Under these circumstances the high price for fuel for their boats often exceeds the fishermen’s income from their catch.
• People need access to the sea and land, and they need to be able to rebuild livelihoods and a normal economy. They need to be able catch fish and to cultivate their land in a safe environment.
• Under today’s circumstances sustainable recovery and self-sufficiency remains unattainable for Gazans.
• Gaza’s fishermen hope that one day they have permanent access, up to 12 miles and that they can go fishing in safety.
• Environmental impact
Fishing within the 6nm limit restricts Gazan fishermen to catching juvenile fish. Not allowing these juvenile fish to grow to maturity and breed is contributing to a depletion of fishing stocks both in Gazan and the adjacent territorial waters.
• Health hazards/nutrition
Given the continuous flow of raw sewage pumped to the sea alongside the characteristics of the ocean current, bottom feeding fish close to the Gaza shore may possibly be contaminated which may endangers the consumers’ health.
A 12 nm fishing limit would increase the quantity/quality of fish in the Gazan market & lower prices, may improve access to better nutrition for poorer Gazan families.
• Income opportunity (in an economy on the brink of recession)
A 12 nm fishing limit would increase the incomes of the approximate 4,000 current fishermen (24,000 family members) according to official statistics.
Also indirectly create additional employment in the retail, boat maintenance, transportation and food processing industries. The GoI’s easing of export restrictions has opened an opportunity for this traditional industry, but it requires the access to sustainable fishing grounds to be realised.
• International Standards
Most countries with Mediterranean coast-line have under domestic legislation established a 12nm fishing limit (i.e. Israel and Egypt). Permitting the Gaza Strip a 12nm fishing limit would align with this generally accepted standard.
Original material : digital
Resolution : 5760x3655
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour