Bureau régional de la FAO pour le Proche-Orient et l’Afrique du Nord

First-ever off-shore marine cage farm starts operations in the Gaza Strip

On 15 September 2021, the Gaza Strip’s first-ever marine cage farm, located about four nautical miles off the shores of Deir al Balah, was stocked with the first shipment of 30 000 fingerlings.

The cage farm, established by FAO in partnership with the Government of Italy on behalf of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (ACIS) and stocked with financial support from the European Union, is operated by a newly-formed Social Business lead by the fishers’ syndicate, together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Al Tawfeek fishing cooperative.  A board of directors involving key actors in the fisheries sector serves as the business’ governing body.

“The installation of these cages is an entrepreneurial project taking place in Gaza for the first time,” said Abdelnasser Madi, executive director of the Social Business. “FAO’s support minimized the risks for Gazans of such an investment and developed their knowledge and skills to maximize benefits of the investment. We expect to witness an increase in production and revenues.”

The works are part of a wider intervention to strengthen resilience and livelihoods of fishing communities in the Gaza Strip through equitable modernisation of the fisheries and aquaculture value chain started in 2017.

“It envisages opening a new, modern economic subsector to enable Gaza fishers and other private actors to benefit from modern, open-sea fish farming technology and market opportunities through an innovative, profitable and environmentally sustainable business model,” said Dr. Ciro Fiorillo, head of FAO's Coordination Office for the West Bank and Gaza Strip Programme (FAO WBGS).

Through its intervention, FAO has also delivered technical and institutional capacity-development support for the Social Business and other related actors.  

“We are fully aware of the innovative nature of the marine cage farm and lack of previous experience in the Gaza Strip. Hence, we believe that building the technical and operational capacities of the Social Business is crucial to ensuring profitable and sustainable operation of the marine cage farm and the business as a whole,” said Dr. Azzam Saleh Ayasa, head of programming at FAO WBGS.

Among the technical and institutional support provided this past year, FAO provided in-depth practical trainings to four fishers selected to be marine cage farm operators and two marine aquaculture technicians on scuba diving up to a depth of 30m, as well as on fundamental aspects of farm management and fish welfare/health control, in anticipation of the delivery of the first shipment of fingerlings.

FAO has also provided support to the Ministry of Agriculture and other service providers on legal and technical aspects of marine aquaculture as part of its contribution towards a more enabling environment for the emerging marine aquaculture subsector.

Additionally, FAO international experts will soon start delivering support on the optimization of marine environments, particularly in respect to fish health and disease control, and on the regulatory framework for marine aquaculture zoning.  

Further support from the ACIS includes the importation of a small-sized modern boat to facilitate effective operations, which arrived in the Gaza Strip on 2 September 2021, representing an important step forward in the project.