A project by private funders and supervised by the local authorities is setting up fish farms in the Gaza Strip in an attempt to meet Gazans\' demand for fish. Gaza’s entire western border is on the Mediterranean Sea, but it lacks fish such as bream and mullet because of Israeli restrictions on fishermen.
Gaza has seven private and two publicly owned fish farms. Together they produce no more than 200 tons of fish a year.
Abu Awni Kahil, the owner of the Kahil fish farm, established his fish farm on 1,300 square meters (13,993 square feet) of land west of Gaza City in mid-2008 at a cost of $500,000, which he paid for entirely as a private investment. He specializes in the cultivation of bream, which Gazans eat most.
“We import fish seeds from Israel because ensuring the success of the mating between the fish and hatching their eggs require capabilities not available in Gaza,\" Kahil told Al-Monitor. \"We put the seeds in pools filled with seawater. We feed them three times a day and continuously supply them with oxygen while running machines called stirrers to help turn the water and prevent mosquitoes and other insects from floating on the water’s surface.”
He said that the continuous power outages are the largest obstacles standing in the way of the success of his fish farm, causing losses and forcing him to rely on generators that cost 14,000 shekels ($3,600) a month extra to preserve the seeds and keep the fish alive.
“Despite these costs, the growing demand by citizens for fish from my farm makes me continue the project. Gazans eat fish as a main staple and eat more of it on Friday, when it\'s a day off,” Kahil said.
Agricultural engineer Raed Hamid believes that, despite the public demand for fish from fish farms, Gazans still prefer the quality and taste of sea fish, which citizens buy daily. When fish from the sea is sold out in the market, people buy fish from fish farms.
“The reason for this preference is that farm fish feed on fodder while sea fish feed naturally on marine algae and smaller fish,” Hamid told Al-Monitor.
He said that most of the fish restaurants in Gaza depend on farm fish because of the fishermen’s small catches. Gazans only buy frozen fish imported from Israel once the sea fish and farm fish are sold out.
[Source: Al Monitor. Read article]