UN guilty in allowing Oslo Accord: Collapse of Gaza fishing industry
by Peter Eyre on 28 Aug 2009 0 Comment

In 2007, the UNHCR reported on the decline of Gaza’s Fishing Industry and stressed the importance of allowing fishermen to go about their daily lives in this vital industry. Fishing historically has been the only lifeline for the people of Gaza. It has been very much part of their daily life and nutritional intake. The UN has allowed the establishment of the deeply flawed Oslo Accord to decimate it.

The outcome from this arrangement was that the fishermen of Gaza would be given a 20 nautical mile fishing zone, which under the terms of the UNCLOS international maritime rulings is totally illegal.

Generally speaking, each coastal state is allowed its own EEZ which allows it access and control of all the natural resources that exist within it 200 nautical mile extremity. In the case of Gaza, it is not possible to gain such an extended marine zone as the borders between Israel and Egypt, when extended, converge into a sort of extended triangle shape.

However, having said that, the amount of extended sea space that could be applied to the Gaza EEZ would be around 60 nautical miles. This is known to the UN and diplomatically comes under the classification of a Disputed Zone.

The other illegal aspect of this accord is that it was totally manipulated by the Israeli Government to its own advantage. In addition to this dramatic reduction in offshore waters, Tel Aviv also imposed a North and South “No Fishing Area” (a sort of buffer zone), further reducing the area available.

The Israeli IDF has totally violated the Oslo Accord by further restricting the Gaza fishermen to just a few nautical miles. This can change on a day to day basis and sometimes involves severe intimidation by the Israeli Navy in firing live rounds or water cannons at the respective crews. This has in the past led to death and injury in total violation of international maritime law.

Because of Israeli restrictions, the waters close to shore have now been depleted of fishing stock, putting the entire Gaza Fishing Industry into a state of collapse. This evil act contributes to the poor health of the people of Gaza.

When one adds that the security of the offshore waters was handed over to the Israeli Government under the terms of the Oslo Accord, and that this was later renegotiated by Mr Abbas as part of the offshore Natural Gas deal, one can see that Gaza was well and truly short changed.

Whilst in Cyprus (during my attempt to sail to Gaza) I had the opportunity to investigate the fishing industry in Larnaca and observed many trawlers returning time and time again with the smaller species of Tuna caught by long line technique. Their catches would weight in around 1,500 kg per trawler, which one can clearly see is a fairly lucrative business. On speaking to the skipper, they told me the days when they used to go down to offshore Gaza and fish. They also told me that the Gaza coastline was good for prawns.

One can clearly see that these severe illegal restrictions is keeping the people of Gaza in a severe state of poverty that in itself must be classified as an act against mankind, and the UN just keeps watching and doing nothing. I would also ask the question - who is fishing in the deeper water off Gaza? Could it be the fishermen of Israel?

Natural gas

The hidden agenda, of course, is that of the other rich resources that belongs to Gaza, namely Natural Gas. This extremely prolific resource is being totally controlled by the Israeli IDF. In actual fact, under the terms of the MOU signed between Livni and Rice (during her last day in office), this MOU offers not only US support for coastal security, but also NATO naval forces. When you link this with the fact that Israel is seeking to become a full NATO member, you can see the main reason behind this conflict.

Because of the extremely lucrative natural gas fields (and possible oil), the coast is obviously going to be militarized to restrict, control and secure these vital resources. It is also ironic that British Gas has for some time become a pawn under the control of the US, UK, Israel and Egyptian Governments, with no current possibility of bringing these fields into commercial production.

It is my firm believe that Israel is currently or about to exploit Gaza’s natural gas, especially those gas fields that by my own calculations are jointly owned i.e. the gas field extends over both borders. Again we see the UN sitting on its hands watching this happen.

One must fully understand that apart from the fields that are controlled by British Gas, namely Marine 1 and 2, the other fields are US/Israel Joint Ventures, hence the total manipulation by those involved. I will cover this potential maritime theft in another article.

Peter Eyre, a former British Naval officer, worked at NATO headquarters in cryptology, and spent a lot of time in the Middle East and South East Asia as a petroleum consultant; he lives in the UK and writes regularly for the Palestine Telegraph

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