When regime forces took control of the Al-Ghab Plain region in the Hama governorate in early 2020, most residents were displaced to opposition-held areas in northern Syria. Among the displaced were owners of local fisheries. Regime military officers are now investing in some of these abandoned fisheries for their personal benefit.
Most of the fisheries are located north of the town of Qalaat Al-Mudhiq in the eastern part of the Ghab region. They were fed by a special irrigation system made up of a network of wells and springs that drained into channels flowing into the Orontes River.
According to official statements published by the semi-official newspaper Al-Watan in September 2021, the fisheries were also located in a number of other parts of the Hama governorate to the point that Hama boasted the highest rate of fish production in Syria before 2011. In 2011, there were 518 fisheries in the Ghab region alone (250 so-called “family” fisheries, 153 licensed fisheries and 115 unlicensed fisheries), occupying a total area of approximately 655 hectares. It is unclear what differentiates the licensed and unlicensed fisheries, other than their licensing status. Family fisheries, on the other hand, are small fish farms that feature multiple ponds ranging in size from one to five hectares, according to a local correspondent for The Syria Report. These fisheries are named as such because each piece of land on which they are built is owned by a single family.
According to The Syria Report’s correspondent in the area, regime military officers are now investing in some of the fisheries that were left behind, some of which are family fisheries in the towns of Al-Huweijeh and Al-Hamra. Officers invest in these fisheries with the cooperation of fish sellers in Hama city, in exchange for up to 50 percent of the profits, preferring ponds located near springs to avoid paying the costs of pumping water from wells.
Most fisheries remain abandoned and inoperational. Aside from the owners’ absence, many of the fisheries cannot function because their owners took their equipment with them as they fled the area. Equipment includes water pumps and machinery for preparing the fish food. The special irrigation system that had been designed to pump water into the ponds in sequential order is also now out of service.