Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
More than 150 workers in the country’s fish-breeding industry protested outside the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday to show their disapproval of proposed agriculture reforms that would lower the price at which they sell their fish, as well as making imported fish cheaper.
The latest round of reforms was proposed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on February 23 in hopes of making popular food items cheaper for consumers ahead of Passover. A debate is ongoing over how much subsidy should be given to Israeli fisherman and fish breeders if they are forced to lower their sale price. Regarding imported frozen fish, such as tilapia from China, there is an argument over whether to allow 3,000 tons of tax-free imported fish for a period of three months or to allow 6,000 tons of imported fish taxed at 50 percent for a period of six months.
Those in the Israeli fish-breeding industry argue that these reforms do nothing to actually lower the price consumers pay, and rather hurt the Israeli fish industry.
Amichai Geller, a manager at the Israel Fish Breeders’ Association and one of the protest’s organizers, told The Jerusalem Post
that importers and stores themselves are at fault for the high price of fish.
“It costs about NIS 11 per kilogram to raise fish and we never sell for more than NIS 13 per kg. However, the public pays NIS 30,” Geller said, saying that these figures show that distributors are the ones setting fish prices so high.
According to Geller, in the last quarter of 2015, the average price for their fish was lowered to NIS 8.5 per kg.
and the reforms could reduce the price to NIS 7. He said fish breeders currently make roughly a 5% profit. The association is calling for them to be able to make a 10% profit, whether by price or with the help of a government subsidy.
“If they lower the price to NIS 7, so be it,” he said. “We’ll just have to accept it and hope the government will help.”