The Finance Committee held the meeting at the request of the Ministry’s which wants changes made to fishing regulations in an attempt to prevent fish depletion.
Things turned fishy at the Knesset on Monday when the Agriculture Ministry called for increased regulations on net fishing, and one MK accused the ministry of trying to eliminate the practice, known as trawling, altogether.

The Knesset Finance Committee met at the request of the ministry, which wants changes made to regulations in an effort to prevent depletion of fish stocks.

One proposed change would require that trawling take place farther from the shore, 40 meters instead of the current 15 meters. The ministry also called for the size of industrial fishing nets to be reduced and for fishing to be prohibited during mating seasons.

In May 2014, the ministry’s master plan listed reducing trawling activity as one its main goals for the next several years while compensating the trawl operators and examining possible incentives for operators to leave their current businesses for the aquaculture industry.

Environmental activists and fishermen have long been protesting the operation of large fishing trawlers along the coast, saying they have led to diminished catches and ravaged protected species.

Finance Committee chairman Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) said that the overall goal of the meeting was to reduce conflicts between the ministry and fisherman.

MK Roi Folkman (Kulanu) said the effect of industrial fishing done with nets was negligible and that he suspected the ministry was trying to get rid of trawling completely. He said that if this is true, it should be stated clearly so discussions can be held on how to “reimburse fisherman for their losses.” He emphasized the importance of reaching some sort of agreement between the ministry and fishermen.

Nir Froiman, head of fishing and aquaculture at the ministry, said that out of the 705 types of fish sold in Israel for food, 27 percent are currently farmraised while 2% come from the Mediterranean and another 1% of fish come from the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

Meanwhile, MK Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) welcomed the proposed regulations and said the two sides should not get so upset over the areas of disagreement.

“The committee is not trying to hurt those who make their living from [trawling],” he said.

MK Haim Jelin (Yesh Atid) told the committee that “some sort of balance must be made between protecting the sea and protecting the livelihoods of fishermen.”