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Fish dispute plagues Sea of Galilee

Sunday, January 16, 2011 - 02:30

Jan 16 - A planned Israeli ban on fishing in the Sea of Galilee, where Christians believe Jesus walked on water, leaves many local fisherman fearing for their way of life. David Botti reports.

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A timeless trade on a holy lake has run into modern day problems. This is the Sea of Galilee - the place where Christians believe Jesus walked on water and multiplied fish and bread. For centuries the waters have attracted Christian faithful, and provided work for local fishermen. But last year Israel's government approved a two-year moratorium on fishing to allow the fish population to multiply. Israel says that over a decade the number of fish here has dropped from 2,000 tons to 200. Local fishermen say a halt to fishing will hurt the area's economy. So far they've won a temporary postponement of the ban. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MENAHEM LEV, FISHERMAN FROM KIBBUTZ EIN GEV, SAYING: "It looks very, very stupid deciding to close the fishing because since Jesus nobody closed the fishing on this lake, and we are not the sickness of this lake. The fishermen are not the sickness of this lake." Haim Anjoni, from Israel's Ministry of Agriculture, says the fishing halt is crucial to ensure strong future generations of the lake's fish. Without it, he worries, the Sea of Galilee could face an ecological disaster. Israeli scientist Moshe Gophen disagrees. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR MOSHE GOPHEN, LAKE KINERET AND HULA VALLEY SCIENTIST OF TEL HAI COLLEGE SAYING: "This is part of a natural phenomenon of cycled ups and downs of Galilee's St. Peter's fish population. After 2008 the population started to increase and presently the population is under increasing process." At the Church of Multiplication, built to commemorate Christ's miracles at the lake, some visitors were not counting on the Israeli government to sustain the fish population. One woman said it was Jesus who would keep supplying the fish, just as she believes he did for his faithful some 2,000 years ago. David Botti, Reuters

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Fish dispute plagues Sea of Galilee

Sunday, January 16, 2011 - 02:30