There is an historical connection between the Gazan community and the off shore fishery. In recent times some 3000 fishermen in over 700 boats made their livelihood in the waters off the shores of Gaza. Before 1978 when the fishing area included the sea off the Sinai coastline the area covered some 75,000 square kilometers.
The larger boats are about 20 meters in length and usually carry a crew of 7. They are typically trawlers using downriggers to lower their nets to the ocean bed. Currently their main catch is bream or sardines that average between 8 and 14 inches. Smaller craft, hassakas, normally deploy their nets a few hundred meters off shore. The nets are then hauled in by hand. These catches are very modest.
On September 13, 1993 the Oslo Agreement was signed marking the basis for a peaceful accord between Israel and the Palestinians.
The 1994 GAZA-JERICHO AGREEMENT outlined specific steps needed to realize the general provisions of the Oslo Agreement. Under its terms the Gazan fishermen were free to use a marine corridor extending 20 nautical miles from the Gaza shore bounded by restricted zones to the north and south abutting Israeli and Egyptian waters.
Beginning in late 2000 the Israeli military initiated a continuing campaign of intimidation and harassment against fishing boats that ventured near or beyond a 6 nautical mile limit. Their patrol boats attacked and harassed the Gazans on a daily basis. To date the Israelis have killed 15 and wounded over 200 fishermen