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AG Mazuz rejects PMO petition to delay removal of Eilat fish cages

ISRAEL - Attorney General Menachem Mazuz announced Sunday he rejects an additional request from the Prime Minister's Office to put off the removal of fish cages from the Eilat Gulf by two years, despite a cabinet decision two years ago stating that they must go within three years.

Mazuz ruled that the decision to gradually remove all the cages by 2008 must be implemented. The decision ordered the amount of food provided for fish in the cages in the gulf to be reduced by a third every year. Up to now, however, this has only been partially enacted.

One of the reasons prompting the government decision two years ago was the pollution resulting from the fish cages, which threatens the bay's coral reef. Prime Minister's Office Director General Ra'anan Dinur, head of the committee for implementing the cabinet's decision to remove the cages, had recently told Mazuz that the fish farmers needed more time to get organized, and that removing the cages sooner would leave them without a living.

Dinur said the farmers required a delay in order to develop land-based alternatives for the fishing, a project which his committee is charged to assist them in. He has also appealed to Mazuz in the past with a similar request.