Sea of Galilee Dropping; Bathers and Fish in Dangerby Gil Ronen
The Sea of Galilee, known in Hebrew as the Kinneret, is nearing a critically low water level and this is affecting the safety of bathers in the sea as well as its fish population. The water shortage also threatens the fresh water supply to Israel’s residents.
The sea’s water level is currently reported at about 212.5 m. below sea level. This is just 50 cm. away from the «red line» of -213 m., the level at which the water supply situation is seen as worrying. It is not far away from the «black line,» either: the absolute minimum level of -215 m.
Fishing down over 75%
Fishing statistics show a decline from 300 tons of fish that were harvested in the Kinneret five years ago, to less than 70 tons fished in 2007. Some observers claimed that the decline is due to the lower level of water in the lake. Others blamed a spate of fish poisonings, inadequate law enforcement and a slacking in the artificial repopulation of the lake, which is usually carried out by the government.
The Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee held a discussion on the subject in mid-May as it announced the start of this year’s bathing and swimming season. It also began the process of ratifying a law which would regulate the way beaches are run in Israel.
The bathing season began May 6 and will continue until the end of October. Israel has 25 beaches on the Kinneret, 91 beaches on the Mediterranean coast, 22 beaches along the Dead Sea and two on the Red Sea. (les meir)