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Hunting fish with spear guns may seem like a counterintuitive way to save Lebanon's dwindling marine life, but a growing community of freedivers argues that it is a potent awareness-raising tool.Zock, 38, a freediving and spearfishing instructor, says he has seen Lebanon's fish populations drop in the three decades he has been exploring its waters.The fish populations living off Lebanon's northern coastline have shrunk in recent years, fishermen say.The European Commission estimates that 90 percent of fish species surveyed in the Mediterranean are overfished, it said in April 2017, following a study.Lebanon, which had 7,000 fishermen in 2014 and where fishing only makes up a tiny part of the economy, has not signed up.Retired fisherman Hassan Mallat, 74, says Lebanon's fish stocks are hit by pollution, bad practices and overfishing.Spearfishing instructor Zock says that, when treated properly, the sea's resources replenish themselves.The instructor started the Freedive Lebanon club alone, but by 2017 it had 90 members, he says.'FISHERMEN BECOME VOTERS'"We explain when to stop fishing certain species according to their mating and spawning seasons, and hunt others instead," Zock says.Several times a year, as egg-laying approaches for different species, they invite fishermen to awareness sessions.Mallat, the retired fisherman, says the government must do more.
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