Take a bus to the sea of Galilee and meet Jamie Shapiro



Take a bus to the Sea of Galilee, and meet Jamie Shapiro, a marine biologist, and one of the most fascinating people you will ever meet. He is convinced he can make the Mediterranean a good place for sports fishing, which is already happening (although I never saw anybody catch a fish in Tel Aviv Harbour. Jamie says this can be done)


I have urged him to create fly fishing for trout in the cold running rivers in the north of Israel, which hasn't turned him on. Although fly fishing could be created at the shore of the Med, as well as ordinary sports fishing, and perhaps even commercial fishing in a body of water that is considered fished out. But if anybody can do it, it will be Jamie.


Jamie, who comes from Brooklyn, New York, decided how he was going to spend the rest of his life from age eight, when Marine Biology was first introduced to him, and he was going to do it in Israel. And so it has come to pass.


At the moment, the sight of the inland sea of Galilee makes you gasp. It is a sight that will stay with you forever.


However there was a problem as the large number of fishing boats netting fish, managed to fish the lake out. Maybe except for the cat-fish, that in all truth, make delicious eating, but cats never bothered putting on scales and so are not considered kosher in social circles. (Next time you are in America, try some)


Jamie told me there were some big ones in that otherwise all kosher sea, and I look forward to a scale-less encounter with those big cats, fried in olive oil, which will rival those produced in the US, in pounds.


The tilapia (St Peter’s fish) are now grown in tanks - you can see the advantage, but one wonders if the same nutrition can be achieved- probably. We know what we put in, so we know what will get out.


Then along came Sidney with his fly rod. It would have been nice to catch some St. Peter’s fish that way, but the St. Peter’s brigade will gobble at your slice of bread rather than at your otherwise productive nymph. I wondered if anything would succumb when at last something did- and they were pretty fussy on what they chose, passing up a relatively large number of other flies in favour of an orange muddler. There appeared not to go be too much future with this lot - even if I was making history.


Jamie will also make history at least in Israel when he reveals how to catch fish in Tel Aviv harbour.


One of the big problems is that the Arabs and others fishing commercially take undersize fish, killing off the future for both of them. “Regulations have little effect” Jamie told us: “There is a shortage of enforcement personnel. “



The lake is home to about thirty species of fish, seven of which are commercial (edible), St. Peters’ being the main attraction, although I have to admit that I have never seen anybody catch one. However, at nearby kibbutz Ein Gev, have some, grill- cooked, and delicious. Also grey mullet and carp are to be stocked, none of whom eat each other.


The main focus is on edible fish that inhabit “fresh water”, but can also thrive in brackish water. (Israel is the highest user in the world for its brackish water in its agriculture.) “Some of the fish are fed by man, rather than nature”, Jamie said, “in tanks. This includes striped bass, itself a hybrid that provides good sport fishing in the United States.


Commercial fishing in the sea of Galilee has gone from an average of ten tons annually to 80 tons. Sports fishing is booming with rods all around the lake. Another aspect of Israel’s successful fishing is the production of Koi Carp, and other tropical fish which are exported to Europe and the Far East.


In collaboration with the Hebrew University, they developed a vaccine against viral diseases, which can be injected. Edible carp are given a bath - immersed in a protective solution.


In the meantime, we hope that, led by Israel, fishing there, sport and commercial will improve a hundred fold, to feed the world, and to provide great sport. No doubt this would have Jesus’ approval. I wonder if he would like to have a go at fly fishing, for Brown Trout in one of the streams in Northern Israel. No doubt it would come as a great pleasure to him.


A boy from Brooklyn has his hand in all of this. Brooklyn, and Israel, have reason to feel deepest pride.


© Sidney Du Broff 2014

     Home Page