By Mohammed Zaatari

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SIDON: Sidon’s fishermen are outraged by the death of huge quantities of fish in their harbor, with some attributing the incident and its impact on their livelihoods to the high levels of sewage pouring into the area.

Sidon’s municipality has been gradually closing up sewage outlets which poured their contents into the sea, redirecting the waste to Sidon’s new sewage treatment center.

However, due to severe power shortages, the pumps go off-line several times a day, causing sewage to find its way back out to the sea through the only remaining opening located near the fishermen’s harbor.

Mustapha Qobrosli, a fisherman, called for an immediate solution for the problem. “Let this massacre against fish stock stop now,” he said.

“Some [fish] died in the peak of their season,” he said, saying thousands of fish were exterminated, and adding that he expected a “real disaster” if a solution was not found. He held Sidon’s municipality responsible for “sewage pipes that burst in the sea and in streets.”

The fishermen’s harbor is a virtually closed-off area in which stagnant water forms as a result of a stone pier that surrounds the harbor.

Another concern for fishermen is the huge waste dump lying on Sidon’s seaside. The solid waste from the dump falls into the sea during the windy winter weather and threatens the coasts’ marine life.

Sidon’s municipality has been holding extensive meetings to kick-start the waste-treatment plant that is hoped will put an end to pollution caused by the country’s most notorious dump.

Abed Renno, another fisherman, said it was the first time he had seen such a huge quantity of fish perish.“They [fish] suffocated,” Renno said, who voiced his fears that pollution would reach deep into the sea and threaten Sidon’s entire fish stock.

One fisherman who requested anonymity urged the fishermen’s syndicate to take immediate action and contact the municipality regardless of the political camp it was backed by. “Our daily bread is more important than all leaderships,” the fisherman said.

Sidon’s Mayor, Mohammad al-Saudi, told The Daily Star the municipality would close the sewage outlet and connect it to the sewage treatment center before the end of Ramadan.