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Fish Farming Recovering

IRAQ - The fish farming industry in Iraq could be bouncing back according to US military sources in the country.

Since the 1980s the country's historic fish farming industry has been in decline.

And before the recent war there were more than 2,000 fish farms in the country, which when they became profitable were seized by the government and distributed to Saddam Hussein's family.

Now with the assistance of the Task Force Marne Soldiers the farms are being returned from the state to private ownership.

Before the industry's decline, carp was the number one source of meat protein in Iraq. Most Iraqi meals contain at least one meat source and fish is generally less expensive than poultry, beef or lamb according to the US official military news paper for the multi-national division centre, Blackanthem Military News.

The demand for fish in the country is high. Markets in Baghdad typically run out of fish long before closing time.

The majority of the Iraqi fish farms raise several species of carp: common, silver and grass. Carp is a hearty and tasty fish, which can survive in Iraq's rather harsh climate.

The fish farming revitalization program aims to improve quality of life for the Iraqi people, as well as propagate the economic stability essential to an effective counterinsurgency strategy.

"Once we help jump-start the agricultural economy, people will go to work every day, make money, and put food on the table. That's going to keep them off the street, where they would be influenced by nefarious characters and manipulated into committing acts of violence," Lt. Col. Bruce Baker, an economist with the civil affairs team, G9 section, 3rd Infantry Division, told Blackanthem Military News.

Throughout Multi-National Division - Center, Soldiers performed surveys of existing farms and identified factors that would help them succeed. They noted the industry required primarily water, feed, transportation and social organisation.

In February, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), conducted a comprehensive assessment of fish farms in their area of operation. They determined that with proper support, the local industry could create up to 10,000 new jobs.

To become operational, fish farms first needed a reliable source of clean water. Task Force Marne oversaw numerous projects to clean and repair dilapidated canals and water pumps.

Ellen Hardy

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