'Kinneret could become a fish-free lake'

Temporary fishing licenses issued until end of Feb. 2011; fish stocks less than 1/10 of 1999 figure coupled with lowest rainfall since 1920s.

By EHUD ZION WALDOKS, JPOST.COM STAFF
January 20, 2011 12:21
2 minute read.
Fishing in the Kinneret

kinneret fishing. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry will issue temporary fishing licenses to Lake Kinneret fisherman until final decisions are made regarding the problem of dwindling fish stocks in the lake.

The temporary licenses will be valid until February 28, 2011, in order to allow the Knesset Economic Committee ample time to discuss the issue.

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The ministry stressed that a solution is needed for the fish issue in Lake Kinneret. Data collected by the Fisheries Department within the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry revealed that fish populations in the lake dropped severely in the last decade, with an annual catch report in 1999 of 2,144 tons of fish, and only 156.8 tons reported in 2009.

The ministry wrote that "the data raised real concerns of an ecological disaster that will occur in the Kinneret following the loss of fish resources, turning Lake Kinneret into a fish-less lake." 

The announcement came only a few weeks after the Water Authority released dismal reports on the below-average rainfal that has plagued the lake for the last decade, with water levels reaching their lowest average since the 1920s.

The years 2001 to 2010 treated Lake Kinneret particularly poorly, the Water Authority said Monday. Moreover, according to its summary of 2010, Lake Kinneret has dropped back down to last year’s water level because of the severe lack of rain despite the state having reduced pumping this year.

Except for a few major showers at the beginning and the end of the year, Lake Kinneret’s water levels steadily dropped from May to December. Despite pumping less water out of the lake, the water level has dropped from what it was last year and is now significantly below the bottom red line. In fact, the water level rested below the bottom red line for most of the year, with the exception of the months of March to June.

So far, only about 60 percent of the average rain has fallen on the Kinneret, the Water Authority said.

Summarizing the decade, the Water Authority said that 2010 caps a horrendous 10 years of below-average rainfall. The average water volume in the lake was 327 million cubic meters a year. The rain-filled years of 2002/3 and 2003/4 were the exception to the other eight years of the decade.


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