Southern Lebanese fishermen say their catch has slumped from 88 pounds a day in the 60s and 70s to a measly three or four-pound daily take because of aggressive dynamite fishing, overfishing and pollution.
According to a report published by AFP, the Lebanese marine life is all but wiped out. Successive governments have been so concerned with civil war, wars with Israel and political turmoil that they didn’t regulate the ocean. The people who might do it – the Ministry of Agriculture – don’t even have patrol boats.
“We have been sounding the alarm for more than 10 years about our disastrous situation but no one is listening and I don’t think anyone ever will,” a farmer named Taha told AFP.
Overfishing and pollution are common maladies among Middle Eastern countries that have depended on the sea for centuries. We’ve covered Dubai’s sewage problem here and Gaza’s water pollution here. Iraq’s marshes also face a serious threat, read about it here.
The red mullet, grouper and small barracudas face extinction in Lebanese waters as a result.
Interestingly, the 2006 war with Israel was a time for the fish to recouperate, because Israel didn’t let the fishermen get to sea. However, afterwards “the fishermen went out day and night, leaving no room for the fish to breath.”