Around 10,000 of the estimated million people employed
in Egypt’s ﬁshing sector are based in ‘Izbat al-Burg, situated at the northernmost tip of the Nile’s Damietta Branch and bordered on the east by the vast Lake Manzala. As recently as nine years ago, Lake Manzala was a major ﬁshing area and a collective asset for this community. Small-scale ﬁshers used simple, cheap ﬁshing boats and equipment, faring well alongside larger operators working in both lake and sea ﬁshing. But at the turn of the century, the lake is no longer regarded as rizq (a source of livelihood). Increasingly, local ﬁshers have been prevented from ﬁshing in Manzala by state-licensed private enclosures that have virtually sealed off access to the lake’s northwestern shorelines.