“This market transformed the Coronavirus restrictions into an opportunity for us and our families,” says Mahmoud Fadel, a fisher at the Jiyeh port. While the current Covid-19 outbreak has presented many challenges for the fishers, they insist on making the best out of it.
Since childhood, Mahmoud enjoyed watching his father and grandfather on their fishing trips. Years later, after being let go from several jobs due to economic challenges, him and his brothers took on the family profession and began earning their livelihoods at sea, particularly at the port of Jiyeh, their hometown.
Since UNDP rehabilitated the whole port and constructed a fish market with support from the British Government, Mahmoud and about 40 fishers are able to sell their fish directly to clients. Not only does this increase their income, but also attracts more locals and visitors from outside the town, benefitting women and men in the Chouf coast who rely on fishing as a primary source of livelihood.
Recently, they built the first boat of their own production using the workshop and tools provided by UNDP as part of the comprehensive support to the cooperative which also included provision of boats and training of fishers.
“Since there is currently no imported fish in the market due to the Coronavirus, our sales have spiked up beyond our expectations,” Mahmoud says with hope.
In compliance with the government’s regulations related to limiting the spread of Covid19, the Fishermen’s Cooperative Association in the Chouf Coast is implementing strict protective measures including physical distancing between clients, wearing masks inside the market, regular sanitization, and limiting the number of fishers to two per boat. These measures, according to what clients told Mahmoud, are the main reason why customers would come back again.
Some of the photos were taken prior to the Covid19 outbreak