​​​​​​​​Ministry of Agriculture and Israel Nature and Parks Authority step up outreach and supervision efforts around the Kinneret ahead of the fishing moratorium period

The fishing moratorium period in the Kinneret region, which this year will last from April 14, 2019, through to July 12, 2019, is being declared by the Fisheries Sub-Division Manager in the Ministry of Agriculture according to the Fishing Regulations, in an effort to assure an uninterrupted spawning season of the Kinneret fish, thereby safeguarding the fisheries resource

The Marine Unit of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which is charged by thee Ministry of Agriculture with supervising the fishing industry in Israel, will step up its outreach and supervision efforts around the Kinneret ahead of the fishing moratorium period during the fish nesting and spaw​ning season. 

The Fisheries Sub-Division at the Ministry of Agriculture each year declares a fishing moratorium period in the Kinneret and Mediterranean according to the timing of the spawning season. this applies to all the various fishing methods. The moratorium is intended to ensure, insofar as this is possible, that the proper spawning process of the fish can complete itself uninterrupted in order to safeguard the fisheries resource.

The prohibition on fishing in the Kinneret between April 14, 2019 and July 12 2019, will apply to the areas adjoining the estuaries of the large Golan Heights rivers into the northern Kinneret (the “Beteicha”) and in the maritime zone between the town of Migdal and the Karey Deshe beach. These areas are the main nesting and spawning areas of various species of Tilapia fish, mainly the Galilee Tilapia (“Musht”), which is the more popular variety on Israeli diners’ plates. The temporary prohibition areas will be marked with buoys and the wardens from the Marine Unit of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, who are in charge of enforcing the Fishing Ordinance in the Kinneret, along the Mediterranean coast and in the Gulf of Aqaba, will enforce the prohibition around the clock with extra forces.

According to Yigal Ben Ari, Head of the Marine Unit in the Israel Nature and Parks Authority: “We and the professional and amateur fishermen have a clear, shared interest in protecting the fish during their spawning season in order to safeguard the abundance of fish in the Kinneret, which has been dwindling year after year. The fishing moratorium in these areas (5% of the lake’s area) is intended to enable the fish to multiply peacefully and succeed in raising a new generation of fish. Over the coming days we will be working with the fishing community in the Kinneret, at the marinas and in the tackle stores through several channels, to keep them updated as to the dates and duration of this fishing moratorium. At the same time we will be stepping up our supervision with the relevant entities and together with other enforcement agencies in order to successfully enforce this moratorium,, thereby successfully upholding the fisheries in the Lake”.

According to Nir Froyman, Manager of the Fisheries Sub-Division in the Ministry of Agriculture: “the spawning season is when the next generation of fingerlings is created. which will be optimal for helping to safeguard the fisheries in the Kinneret. We call on all fishermen to cooperate, thereby preserving this important resource”. 

The Galilee Tilapia spawning process and its ecological importance

The Ministry of Agriculture and Israel Nature and Parks Authority note that the spring months, when the waters of the Kinneret begin warming up, is when the Galilee Tilapia congregate in the shallow, plant-rich areas to nest and spawn. At the end of a courtship, the Tilapia build cavern-like nests among the plants and the females lay hundreds of eggs there with the males immediately fertilizing them.
One of the more fascinating features of the Tilapia’s spawning process happens when the eggs are fertilized and in order to protect them against predators and damage, the parents guard them by holding them in their palates. This wat the parents provide the fertilized eggs, besides protection, an optimal temperature and oxygen. After about a month, when the larvae become able to swim on their own they leave the nest and embark on their life as independent fish. At this stage the parents prepare for another round of spawning. If one of the parent fish is caught during the spawning and hatching period, this destroys the survival chances of the larvae and impacts the future generation of fish and the future catch.

The Galilee Tilapia, the species with the highest market value of all Kinneret fish, and the favorite fish among Israelis, also fulfills a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance in the Kinneret’s waters: the Tilapia feeds off algae which, if left to proliferate unchecked, may damage the quality of the Kinneret water. 

The prohibition on commercial and sport fishing in the spawning and nesting areas is intended to help the Galilee Tilapia population grow and become stronger as part of the national drive to safeguard the fishery resource and the quality of the water in the lake.