DE RUEHJM #2068 1421536
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 221536Z MAY 06
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2288
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS JERUSALEM 002068
NEA/IPA FOR WILLIAMS/GREENE/WAECHTER; NEA/RA FOR LAWSON; OES FOR DALEY; NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/LOGERFO; STATE PASS TO USAID/BORODIN AND TO USDA
1. (SBU) According to an April World Food Programme (WFP) report, local demand for fish in Gaza has doubled and put pressure on Gaza fishing grounds, already restricted to 6 nautical miles from the shore. (Note: The Oslo Accords designated 20 miles of fishing grounds for Palestinians in Gaza. End Note.) Fish catch dropped from 8 metric tons per day in 2005 to 4.2 metric tons per day in 2006. WFP warned that if the fishing grounds are not expanded to at least 12 miles from the shore, the fishing industry could disappear by October 2007, impacting 35,000 Gazans who work in the industry and depriving Gazans of an important source of protein.
2. (SBU) Executive Director of Al-Tawfiq Fishermen's Cooperative Mohammad Zaqout told EconOffs that the fishermen do not have the resources or the ability to meet the higher demand for fish primarily due to limited fishing grounds. Zaqout said the GOI had extended the fishing area to 10 nautical miles from the shore when President Abbas was elected in 2005, but limited it to 6 nautical miles after Hamas took over the government in March. As a result, Zaqout said 3,500 fishermen could only catch about 2 to 3 metric tons of fish per day.
3. (SBU) Zaqout said that Gaza fishermen lacked the money to repair their boats and nets. Although some NGOs had provided assistance in the past, the Intifada had forced NGOs to revise their assistance priorities in light of changing humanitarian needs. CARE Gaza staff member told EconOff that CARE had provided some technical assistance and had taken a leading role in encouraging the fishermen to advocate for their rights. The Welfare Association, a private, non-profit foundation channeling assistance from the Palestinian diaspora to local NGOs, had provided fishermen with ice and nets in the last few years. (Note: USAID has not previously provided assistance to fishermen in Gaza. End Note.) Without equipment such as fishing nets, fuel, and lighting equipment, fishermen in Gaza would be unable to continue to fish, Zaqout said. He added that other related industries, such as boat construction, would suffer if the fishing industry collapsed. WALLES