Imagine fishers heading out to sea on a beautiful day, ready for a hard day of work to support their families. They might face challenges – a poor catch, storms, not enough buyers – but ordinarily their job is fairly straightforward. Now imagine these fishers being shot at – routinely – when they go fishing. Imagine the fishers stripped, searched, detained and their boats confiscated by the navy. This is an everyday reality for fishers in the Gaza Strip who live and work under constant threat of Israeli attack at sea.
This fact sheet highlights the impact of increasing restrictions and violence faced by fishers in Gaza. For example:
- The 1993 Oslo Accords granted Gazan fishers the right to fish up to 20 nautical miles offshore (one nautical mile is roughly 1.15 miles.) The 20 nautical mile limit is only 10 percent of the exclusive international legal limit of 200 miles granted to sovereign countries under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
- In 2006 Israel unilaterally reduced the fishing area to 6 nautical miles offshore when Hamas came to power in the Gaza Strip.
- During the 2008-2009 Israeli Operation Cast Lead, Israel further reduced the fishing area to just 3 nautical miles.
- The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reports that Israeli naval forces routinely shoot at Gazan fishing boats even when they are well within 3 nautical miles from shore.
- By reducing the fishable area, Israel has cut off up to 85 percent of the available seas, including the best waters containing valuable fish such as sardines and mackerel.
- Fishers were once one of the wealthiest sectors of Palestinian society, but today 95 percent of fishing families are dependent on food aid.