Babylon & Beyond

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IRAQ: Teach a man to fish ...

February 4, 2008 |  2:23 pm

With a large number of Iraqi families dependent on fishing for economic survival, over-fishing the rivers and lakes of Anbar province is a problem.

Saddam Hussein's regime used to forbid fishing on the massive Lake Qadisiya behind the Haditha Dam each April to give the fish population a break. Violators were treated brutally.

Iraqi fishermen are pleading with sailors on U.S. Navy patrol boats not to close down the lake — although the decision rests with the government in Baghdad.

Long-term, the U.S. believes it has a better idea. Plans are apace for a fish hatchery near Haditha. The idea has a tactical, as well as economic, motive.

Officials believe that fishermen will be less vulnerable to the blandishments or extortion of insurgents if they are not left without ways to support their families one month every year.

One of the fish being considered for stocking is the tilapia. It's the fish that the apostle Peter is said to have pulled from the Sea of Galilee and found a coin in its mouth.

— Tony Perry in Haditha

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