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At 1 p.m. on this sunny Thursday afternoon, Tripoli fishermen Ibrahim Shehade and Ishaac Sidawi should be out at sea.It has seen a population boom in the last three or four years, taking a critical toll on fishermen in Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece and Egypt, among other countries, by consuming large amounts of smaller fish and damaging fishing equipment.There are currently seven types of puffer fish lurking in the eastern Mediterranean waters, but this one is the most dangerous. In July 2011, the Agriculture Ministry banned fishing, selling and consuming any of the seven species of puffer fish found in the Mediterranean Sea in decree 272/1, following several hospitalization cases of those who ate the fish.At a fish market near Tripoli's Mina seafront, a portly employee proudly displays two puffer fish, holding one in each hand.While the fish may be banned by Lebanese law, Nader says that 50 percent of worldwide fish sales are made on the black market.Nader believes the government should set up competitions for fishermen to catch puffer fish in order to reduce its population, something he says would need to be kept up over a 10-15 year period in order to be effective.
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