Land-based and artisanal-fishing sources of marine litter: a Mediterranean Sea case study

Like many communities along the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (the Levant), the Israeli coastal village of Jisr-A-Zarka (Jisr) has a sensitive coastal environment.  Near-shore and coastal habitats found here are fragile and unique. Unlike most of the 190 km Israeli coast within town limits, Jisr’s coastal area is relatively undeveloped, and is composed of sandy beaches and shallow lagoons, some rocky headlands and kurkar cliffs. The town of Jisr is economically distressed, densely populated (14,000 inhabitants within 1.6 km2) and it has major infrastructure challenges, including many related to waste management (such as lack of access for waste collection vehicles, vandalism of waste collection bins, etc.)

A government development plan for Jisr envisages the development of ecotourism based on its natural coastal/marine heritage and environmental assets, particularly its sandy beaches and adjoining nature reserve. Jisr has a small artisanal fishing community – numbering approximately 30 fishermen. While they and their families live in the town of Jisr, the fishermen keep their fishing gear in a collection of small huts on the beach (the fishing village), where they spend most of their time when they are not out fishing. Although commercial fishermen operate out of larger ports along the coast (including Ashdod, Yaffo and Haifa), Jisr’s fishing village is the only community of exclusively artisanal fishermen on the Israeli coastline. Jisr is also the only exclusively Arab town along the Israeli coastline although Arabs and Jews coexist in Akko, Haifa and the large city of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, all of which have small fishing ports.

The purpose of this research is to explore perceptions of litter in Jisr (both town and fishing village), identify the main challenges to the prevention of near-shore marine litter on Jisr’s beach and to identify possible points of intervention for waste planning and management approaches that could reduce the marine and coastal litter in Jisr’s fishing village area. The importance of research into perceptions of marine litter has increased in recent years. However, there is little in-depth qualitative research on perceptions of marine litter by artisanal fishermen. This research will provide qualitative insights into how artisanal fishermen perceive marine litter and its impact on their fishing activities and the marine environment. Designed as a pilot project, the research constitutes the initial stages of a larger effort centered on development of best waste management practices for the prevention of marine litter from land-based and artisanal-fishing activities in Mediterranean Sea coastal communities.


Project details

Duration: March-November 2016
Funders: Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
Scientists involved: Dr Michelle Portman and Dr Ruth Brennan (Technion – Israel Institute of Technology), Dr Nurit Carmi (Tel Hai College), Eden Barnoy (Technion – Israel Institute of Technology), Mona Sabbah (Technion – Israel Institute of Technology)