Lebanon’s economic crisis revives river fishing in southern villages

Dozens of citizens of all ages flock every day to rivers in southern Lebanon to spend hours in fishing, hoping to generate some income in light of worsening poverty, unemployment and the impacts of COVID-19 outbreak.

Fadi Abdallah, 60 years old, and his three children left early morning from Khiyam, a village in southern Lebanon, for the Wazzani River to toss hooks and wait for their share of fish.

Abdallah told Xinhua that fishing in Lebanon’s rivers has recently become more of a profession than a hobby.

“River fishing has become a source of livelihood for a big number of poor and middle income families, especially those who have lost their jobs given the deteriorating economic conditions in the country,” he said.

Asaad Saab, 20 years old, from the town of Ibl al-Saqi in southern Lebanon, said that demand on river fish exceeds the supply because it is fresh, delicious and its price is acceptable.

“One kilogram of fish is sold at 25,000 Lebanese pounds (about 4 U.S. dollars) nowadays while the price of similar imported fish exceeds 50,000 Lebanese pounds,” Saab told Xinhua while he was carefully watching the movement of his fishing rod.

For his part, Samer Ghayyad, a young man with a university management degree, said that the fishing season this year was good since winter rains were delayed.

“Our daily yield of fish ranges between two to five kilograms sold at between 50,000 and 125,000 Lebanese pounds which is an acceptable amount of money that helps us in facing the increasing burdens of life,” he said, explaining that fishermen’s work extends from the beginning of the summer to the start of winter rains as fishermen apply primitive fishing method with hook, box and nets.

“Selling my daily yield of fish provides me with an acceptable amount of money to feed my family,” Ghayyad added.

Jamal Hammoud, a father in his 40s, said that he uses cages specially designed for fishing where he places the bait and throws the cage in a deep creek in the middle of the Hasbani River, waiting for fish to enter, devour the bait through a small hole and get trapped inside.

“This primitive method is the best way to collect a large quantity of excellent river fish, most of which we sell to restaurants,” he said.

Salem Daher, a citizen from Qulayaa in southern Lebanon, noted that he has become jobless due to the economic collapse and he resorts to fishing in the Litani River to earn money and break out of life’s monotony.

Lebanon suffers from its work economic crisis amid increase in inflation, coinciding with a scarcity in foreign currency and the collapse of the Lebanese pound, with banks placing heavy restrictions on withdrawals of deposits from banks.

This situation caused the bankruptcy of a big number of institutions, and the layoff of tens of thousands of workers.

The country’s multiple crises were exacerbated by the repercussions of COVID-19 outbreak and the catastrophic Beirut port’s explosion, which killed at least 190 people, while wounding around 6,000 others and displacing 300,000.