Lebanese fisheries are characterised as small scale artisanal, traditionally based on passive gears such as gillnets, trammel nets, longlines and purse seines operated by small wooden boats. Vast majority of fishing activities take place within a range of six miles from the port of departure and 3 miles from the coast. Fishing operations are mostly carried out at a depth up to 50 m.
The artisanal fishing fleet is operated predominantly by rather aged fishermen with dated equipment. Illegal fishing behaviors and bad practices, the heavy pollution, the human pressure on the coastline that brought to the loss of around 55% of the pristine natural coasts of the Country, the low public investment in the sector during the past decades have narrowed the economic value of the sector and therefore negatively affected fishers’ lives.
Nowadays the fishing sector employs about 6500 persons organized in 5 syndicates and 33 cooperative. The main sector’s data are:
44 harbours and landing sites
2860 boats (98% smaller than 12 m and 78% are wooden made).
90% of the fishermen working within 3-4 nautical miles from the landing site
Total catch of about 9.000 t per year
The absence of adequate public investments and of dedicated credit lines summed to the absence of enforcement of laws and regulations have prevented the development of the sector and have been at the origin the negative environmental implications related to fishery. Considering the local consumption of about 35.000 tons, more than 74% of the consumed fish is imported from abroad.
Nevertheless, a new course has been recently established and new strategies are being prepared in order to pave the way to a new era of development for the fishery sector in Lebanon. The step taken in the above mentioned direction will allow the Ministry of Agriculture to set the proper ground to establish and implement long term effective fishery policies with positive results not only on fishermen’s lives but also on marine environment and the sustainable use of resources.