People can’t really measure the impact of the fishing industry’s destruction in this country because they don’t particularly know the numbers, nor – most probably – do they have a direct contact with those affected to actually know the levels involved.
Enter a report released today by the Oxford Business Group to put things in perspective:
Bahrain is still a net exporter of seafood, with the overseas trade worth an estimated $1.35m in 2005, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Developmentâ€™s International Trade Centre (ITC). However, this was well down on the $13m export total for the year before, a direct result of the collapse of shrimp stocks in the waters around the kingdom. Shrimp and shellfish exports fell from $11m in 2004 to just $95,000 in just 12 months, ITC figures showed.
One of the main threats to Bahrainâ€™s shrinking fish stocks is the fall out from expansion, both of the economy and of the country itself. Dredging to deepen shipping access routes around Bahrainâ€™s islands and reclamation projects to extend the amount of waterfront land available for development have affected some of the ecosystem.
Does it make sense now? Do you see how 4,000 fishermen’s families are suffering because of this desperate situation?
Help is at hand, though, but only because of the local press, Al-Wasat Newspaper specifically, highlighting these issues. Since they first published the picture of those hundreds of dead fish washed up on the shores of Tubli bay and subsequently followed up on that issue, did the government actually wake up and try to do something about this devastating situation.
Now, as the OBG report states, the government is considering compensating those fishermen whose livelihood has been affected by the environmental impact of dredging, development and waste treatment by the end of this year. They are – thankfully – also considering creating new artificial reefs to encourage fish to breed and hopefully compensate those that have been driven from what was a very rich environment in Tubli bay.
Let us also hope that with the concerted combined efforts of the press and the environmentalists to highlight the degradation of the environment and present their findings in an appropriate way so that people understand the impending danger in a tangible way and for us to then adopt these issues at a grass roots level which will definitely force the government and law makers to put in place legislation and plans to rescue our rather limited environment.