Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BEIRUT: Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan launched a workshop in Batroun on Tuesday to encourage harvesting fish and protecting Lebanon’s maritime wealth.

The workshop was part of a regional project organized by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with the aim of promoting guided fishing, east of the Mediterranean. It was attended by Energy and Water Minister Jebran Bassil, in addition to FAO representatives and marine specialists from Cyprus, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Palestine and Portugal.

The workshop will last until Friday and is being held at the National Center for Marine Science. It seeks to encourage harvesting fish, an activity of which Lebanon is in need, according to Hajj Hassan. “This is an important step,” he said.

He then regretted that fishing had been neglected by authorities for several years, which led to the increase of arbitrary fishing. “We’ve started to take firm measures to limit arbitrary fishing and we will continue to take steps toward protecting fishermen,” he said.

Hajj Hassan announced a plan to build four new ports dedicated to marine control and said more supervisors will be recruited to help preserve maritime and natural resources.

“We’ve taken several measures that fishermen might find harsh but are for their own good,” he added.

Bassil regretted the decrease in Lebanon’s maritime wealth: “I think it was harmed because the Lebanese used brutal fishing methods … Lebanon has witnessed such a drop in its maritime resources that it has to import 70 percent of its fish.”

Bassil stressed the significance of the Center for Marine Science, but criticized its poor state, saying it was neglected.

He also hoped the workshop would be taken seriously because it tackled a serious issue, noting that Mediterranean countries which adopted fish harvesting were more developed than Lebanon.