2016: The Year of the Fish

Dolphins in the Mediterranean.Photo: Meir Faraj

SPNI is celebrating a milestone victory in our Fishing Responsibly campaign. Last week the Supreme Court ruled in favor of our petition against the Ministry of Agriculture to institute:

  • a breeding season moratorium on all fishing  from June until August
  • a trawling ban in April and May in waters shallower than 40 meters (where young fish are found)
  • a total ban on destructive bottom trawling using tires or other weights


This decision marks the first time in Israel’s history that the fishing industry will adopt sustainable practices. Our campaign will lead to the recovery of Israel's fishing stocks, save 100,000's of endangered fish, and other marine species, and dramatically increase profits for fishermen.


This ruling was a key and significant achievement in our Fishing Responsibly campaign. Israel's 22 active fishing trawlers are responsible for costing the economy an estimated 860 million NIS. Their activities have led to the virtual collapse in Israel's fish stocks due to overfishing, as well as the death of endangered marine animals including dolphins, sea turtles and sharks. Over 70% of their catch was fish too small to have reached breeding age. This unsustainable overfishing has had a catastrophic affect on Israel's artisanal fishing industry with 80% of them no longer regularly fishing at sea.

 School of fishThe lack of sustainable management for Israel's fishing industry means that Israel has only 1/6th of the fish in its economic waters compared to neighboring countries such as Turkey. Now that a breeding season moratorium is in effect - a globally accepted standard - fish will be able to reach breeding maturity, within a few years stocks will have recovered allowing fishermen to catch higher quality specimens and increase their profits by an estimated 40%.


In addition to this ruling SPNI has seen over 3,300 of Israel’s sports fishermen adopt our voluntary code of conduct promising to:

•           Refrain from catching endangered fish, or other species, below the minimum catch size

•           Release any of endangered species they catch back into the sea

•           Respect a daily catch limit

•           Not fish near underwater caves


Nir Papai, SPNI Vice President and Director of SPNI’s Nature Protection Department added “This is a big success after many years of effort and demonstrates SPNI’s ability to lead change through a combination of legal and public awareness activities. This victory puts Israel’s fishing industry on the path to sustainability”.