Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

For your unit's event

We Fish at al-Faw Palace welcome your unit's interest in our blog.

For a signature, just ask anyone in MNF-I CJ3 RTT, whose motto is Carpe Diem, to write "Carpe Diem" on your paper.

Here are the specific instructions: Find, say, some Otis Spunkmeyer muffins [laden with fat, starch and calories] from any Any Soldier table anywhere; nobody is eating them, so you take a few, unwrap them and feed them to the Fish!

If store-bought muffins are unavailable, just feed us anything else; of course we'll like it. Thank you very much. That is all.

Photo tip to Kris.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Fish at Al-Faw Palace salute the Baghdad Anglers Club

We Fish at Al-Faw Palace thank the Baghdad Anglers Club and its members for contributing to the preservation of our way of life, and the future of Iraq.

"Catch and Release" ensures not only our continued survival - and that of Iraq - but also the continued availability of sport fishing as a form of recreation for our deployed servicemembers - and, later, we hope, tourists, including returning veterans.

So, if we get caught - and are returned to the lake - it's all in good fun, right?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fish Haiku #14

Pita: Limit 4

-- Sign at Pegasus DFAC

==> Z Lake has Fish too!

Note: Above YouTube video, "the killer fish in iraq," seems to have been taken at Camp Liberty near Pegasus DFAC, located on Z Lake:

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fish Haiku #12

Beware mutant carp

Boiling water churning pink

As they eat their own.

Photo tip to Kris

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We're in a deployment video

[start @0:33]

Quite a good job, actually. And, thanks for the food!

How the Fish at Al Faw Figure into Iraq's Economic Recovery...


At today's high-level strategy meeting, with all the top brass and many interagency leaders... I gave the following update on how USAID's agribusiness program Inma ("growth" in Arabic) contributes to Iraq's growing stability and security. In short, building Iraqi agricultural capacity helps Iraq be less dependent on imports and less vulnerable to droughts and other environmental shocks. Here's part of the brief:

"A NYT article recently featured the resurgence of the Iraqi fish industry, crediting Inma for its support. Aquaculture is re-emerging slowly as a major food source in Iraq, and the traditional open-flame roasting of fish is making a comeback in the newly re-opened Masquf restaurants in the riverside park along Abu Nuwas. Despite inexpensive imported frozen product, there remains devotion among Iraqis for fresh, locally produced fish. Almost all the fish roasted on Abu Nuwas now — mostly common carp and its varietal cousins — are raised on farms scattered along the Euphrates River south of Baghdad.

"In Babil province, increased stability following the surge allowed Inma to assist the two biggest Iraqi fish hatcheries. Extensive canals in Babil Governorate and neighboring areas provide water for over 1,000 hectares of ponds devoted to production of common carp. Rather than promote an increase in the number of ponds, and hence water use, Inma trains farmers to more efficiently use their existing ponds and reduce losses of live fish as they are transported to market. Annual fish production in Babil increased from a negligible amount in 2007 to 65,000 MT in April 2009. In May 2009, Inma flew 12,400 carp fingerlings from Hungary to cross-breed a hardier, fleshier fish which will be ready for production in May 2010. Gross sales by Inma-assisted fish farms will grow by $30 million over the next two years."

The Commanding General of MNF-I recommended that we look into using the monstrously huge Fish at Al Faw (the actual fish, not this website) to help strengthen Iraqi fish farms... and the Chief of Staff MNF-I explained that we're already helping to do that under some program. Thought you'd all want to know!


Fish Haiku #2


gaping mouth must feed,
fragile gosling disappears--
a fish at al faw

--robert m. birkenes

A Fish from the next generation


Fish Haiku #10

MEK at Camp Ashraf

Like the Fish, still there, so far . . .

. . . Saddam's legacies . . .

Photo tip to SSG Brad Gerten

The Fish: peaceful view

Photo tip to SSG Brad Gerten.

Fish Haiku #9

Clock Tower tells time

A Mall at FOB Union III

Who will feed the Fish?

Fish Haiku #8

Geese in a circle:

Convoy OPS - Stare down the Fish!

Protect your babies!

Photo tip to LTC Bob.

Fish Haiku #7

Nerfs in JIATF

flash firefight frenzy erupts

just like Fish feeding

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fish Haiku #2A

Quiet on the lake

Fragile gosling disappears . . .

A Fish at Al-Faw

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Fish Story: Wild Kingdom

First, a video:

And now, from a friend of the geese:

One of the cool things about the landscape here in Iraq is that the palaces have moats. No shit, moats. I learned on the Victory Over America Palace tour [elsewhere on Victory Base Complex] that the Muslim faith (as practiced here in Iraq) believes that there is no sin committed over water, which is why many of the party houses and palaces have moats. I think we Christians need more rules like this one! Anywho, one of the cool benefits of a moat is getting to see the birds and fish as you walk to work. The moat provides an entire ecosystem for wild life.

When we arrived at Al-Faw Palace in November, there was a brand new clutch of goslings. Over the past 4 months, I have been watching these birds mature. They've grown, turned colors, and are now adult members of their flock. Watching the birds is one of many small ways to keep my mind active and engaged. So, a few days ago, I'm walking with my friends across the bridge to the palace and I see this new formation of goslings. I start to gush, "Look Andrew, a little formation of 7 goslings. Aren't they cute? Quick take a picture. They are so fuzzy and yellow and cute. Hurry Andrew, take a picture!" Andrew of course is hopping up and down on one leg trying to pull his camera from his shin pocket on his cammies. Then I notice that the mama geese are headed toward the bank and the little formation of goslings are swimming directly for the carp feeding area.

Be advised that the carp feeding area is a place closest to the palace where soldiers stop and throw food over the fence to feed the fish. These fish are crazy. They can see you coming and will start to swarm under you. Then as soon as you start to throw chow - it doesn't matter what sort of chow (except they won't eat lettuce, I'm told) - they go crazy and splash and compete for food.

The swimming goslings are on a collision course with the schooling carp. I start to say, "Turn around little goslings, the fish are over there. Stop little geese, go where your mamas are." They of course don't listen to me. They paddle closer and closer to the school of carp. Then one of the carp on the edge of the schooling area swims over and nudges the feet of one of the goslings. My mind is racing. Turn around little geese, paddle faster. As if we had ESP, the little formation changes direction and starts to paddle toward the bank...but then out of the deep a GIANT carp comes up and jumps on top of the goslings and eats one whole. Now there are 6 little goslings swimming their asses off. If you look closely at the photo to the right, you can see the shadows of the goose-eating fish following them as they try to flee. I actually squealed when I saw the little goose in the mouth of a huge carp. I was mortified. My mind stands still and races at the same time. I do a little mental rewind, insert the theme music from jaws, and then imagine the voice of Marlin Perkins from Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom narrating the entire attack. OBTW, I loved that show when I was a little girl. It's where I learned that I loved elephants and lions. My affinity for orcas and blue whales came later. Anyway, the fish attack was the most violent thing I've ever seen in nature. I mean actually seen with my own eyes. Sure I've seen dog fights, and road kill, but to see a little gosling get eaten alive by a huge carp was crazy.

The next thing I remember is continuing to say, "Holy shit, did you see that. That shit was like Moby Dick or something." At the same time, the three gentlemen I am with are laughing and carrying on. It is as if my male escorts are completely at peace with the food chain. I, too, am a carnivore, but I like to suspend my knowledge of how meat is obtained. I'm happy to be evolved enough to pick it up at the DFAC or commissary.

I hear this story recounted no less than 10 times to whoever would listen. It is so real and violent and beautiful and amazing. On some level this experience reminds us that life is fragile, precious, and fleeting. To make a sad story sadder...I haven't seen the other 6 goslings since that day. I think they too became fish food. Hopefully, the next clutch is smarter...but they are geese.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Those Annoying Boaters

Recently there has been a lot of boating on our once-peaceful lake.This is quite annoying since it brings back bad memories of Operation CARPE DIEM. Many of us lost friends and family to that fishing expedition, so whenever we hear a boat on the lake we are afraid it is another trap.

Water-skiing Peeps are especially frustrating, since they are quite tasty but are moving too fast behind that damn boat for us to catch them.

Carp out.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Operation CARPE DIEM

from the Victory Times, telling the Multi-National Corps - Iraq story, Vol. II, Issue 121. [no longer on the web]

Palace fish make splash in Iraqi economy

Experts use rare species to jump-start industry/ limits placed on Soldiers' fishing, feeding activities

by SPC. Christopher M. Gaylord, 13th Public Affairs Detachment

In the 1990s, Saddam Hussein drained Marsh Arab wetlands in southern Iraq to punish locals who had provided refuge to rebels. The results devastated entire villages whose economies relied mainly on the fishing industry.

Years later, water is flowing back to the area, but the fish population is still depleted.

Multi-National Corps-Iraq's agricultural team is collaborating with the Iraqi government in an effort to revitalize the fishing industry in areas where the fish population was decimated.

For the next month, the MNC-I C9 agricultural team will go fishing in Victory Base Complex's lakes, including the moat that surrounds Al Faw Palace, the headquarters for MNC-I and Multi-National Forces-Iraq.

Their catch--three rare species of male and female fish--will be transported to the state fish hatchery in Sewara, in Wasit Province, 65 kilometers south of Baghdad.

"The biologists that looked at the fish at Al Faw Palace said that if they could capture a number of these fish, it would revolutionize the fishing industry in Iraq, so they're very excited about it," said Col. Lyle Jackson, veterinary officer, C9 agriculture, MNC-I. "These fish are extremely valuable."

The fish to be harvested are of the Bunni, Shabout and Kattan species, three of the types most desired by Iraqis.

"The whole population [of Iraq] favors these types of fish," said Dr. Mewafak Raffo, veterinary poultry advisor, C9, MNC-I.

Raffo said the genetics of the fish on Victory Base Complex are ideally suited for the project. Similar specimens can't easily be found anywhere else in the world, he said: The palace fish were carefully screened, and no one has touched, abused or attempted to catch them illegally.

The goal is to capture about 150 female fish and 300 male fish from each species by the end of January.

The Iraqi biologists o the project have a process that will help the fish reproduce at a high rate, ensuring the most offspring and bang for the buck. "We get a very high percentage of fertile eggs and a very large hatch," Jackson said.

To aid the project, Jackson has asked that VBC personnel feed the fish only during certain hours and only from the shoreline outside Al Faw Palace's gates. Personnel are asked not to fish from the palace bridge, which had been a popular feeding spot.

"We're just asking people to feed them at a site where we can capture them easier," Jackson said. Closer to the palace bridge, "the water is very deep over there, and there's no bank to work from. You'd have to use boats," he said.

On a base where fishing is a common leisure activity, Jackson also has asked that personnel cease fishing with nets until the harvesting is completed.

The project is a possible boon to the marshes, an area of Iraq that has been financially and environmentally staggered for more than a generation.

"These fingerlines we produce from this project will be used to restock the marshes in the south that have been devastated by drought and by the previous government," Jackson said. "They're depleted and so those people can't make a living fishing anymore."

Jackson, Raffo and the rest of the agricultural team are confident the project's success will be felt nationwide.

"We can help the whold Iraqi economy with these fish," Jackson said.

MNC-I News Release: MNC-I agricultural team working promising fish harvesting project.

Another MNC-I News Release: Fishing Industry to be Revitalized with Species from Saddam's Palace Waters.