Bahrain steps up coastal patrols
Manama, August 18, 2014
Rapid response teams are patrolling Bahrain's coastline on speedboats to combat illegal fishing practices that are believed to have caused the recent deaths of rare marine species.
According to the Supreme Council for the Environment (SCE), a dead dolphin and a turtle found washed up near Al Dur last week were the victims of destructive fishing techniques that can ensnare endangered animals, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Fishermen will often dump such by-catch, leaving it for dead in a bid to avoid prosecution by the authorities, an SCE spokesman said.
'Both animals are most likely victims of shrimp season by-catch, where fishermen use drift-netting, gill-netting and other forms of destructive and illegal fishing practices,' he said,
They drag along and suffocate non-targeted animals, which are then disposed of ‘or left to beach if mortally wounded’ to avoid prosecution, according to the national fishing laws set out by the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry's agriculture and marine resources directorate.
“These laws are violated intentionally for commercial reasons, and recently the directorate has launched rapid inspection and intervention crews onboard speedboats to stop such violations.”
The SCE official ruled out the possibility of pollution being the cause of the marine animals' deaths, as none was found in that area.
“If that had been the case then that area would have witnessed mass suffocations, with the floating and beaching of various species,” he said.
“The water quality measurement unit in the SCE's labs frequently tests water all over Bahrain to determine the safety of its composition and the level of contaminants present.
“Any unusual findings are reported to the official parties involved to intervene and resolve the matter, and the media are notified accordingly.”
The dolphin found at Al Dur last week was severely decomposed, the spokesman noted, indicating that it had been there for a long time - while the turtle was in an early stage of decomposition.
However, if either animal had still been alive, he cautioned that those who found it should have notified the SCE immediately.
“Anyone who finds such animals should contact the SCE hotline on 80001112 as our experts are adept at handling these creatures professionally,” he said.
“For example, the turtle was already a victim of cruelty and the fisherman who volunteered to try and save it could have done more harm than good had it been alive, as he tied ropes to it and tried to drag it.”
Hassan Al Ghallas from Salmabad, whose businessman brother made the grisly finds in Al Dur last week, told the GDN it was not the first time such animals had been found dead.
“My brother is very interested in fishing and most of his free time he spends near the coasts or in the sea,” he said.
“As soon as he saw the dead animals he alerted the ministry, but he has told us that he has seen dead animals in the sea as well.”
No one from Bahrain Fishermen's Society could be reached for comment on the allegations of illegal fishing practices at the time of publication. - TradeArabia News Service