(MENAFN - Arab News) Many fishermen here say that extensive pollution of the Jeddah coastline has forced them to ply their trade in other areas of the Kingdom's coastline including Al-Laith, Yanbu and Rabigh.
They say that some careless members of the public have damaged the sensitive coral reef, which is the habitat of many varieties of fish, with empty bottles, tires and other waste.
Hani Hajar, a Saudi fisherman, told Arab News there is no way anyone can now fish in these polluted waters. He said it was more difficult to catch fish, which has made their work harder.
Ahmed Al-Ez Al-Deen, an Egyptian fisherman in Jeddah, said he was also having problems. "The whole coastline between Jeddah and Qunfudha has been polluted and resulted in the depletion of fish resources and the total disappearance of tuna. Reckless fishing also damages the fish-breeding environment," he said.
He said the pumping of raw sewage into the sea has led to the "destruction of the habitat of fish and other sea organisms. Even locations away from coastal areas are not free from the ravages caused by coastal pollutants."
Khalid Al-Shweiki, director-general of the Fishermen's Cooperative Society, said the price of fish is expected to drop by 40 percent at the beginning of September. However, prices are much higher than they were a few years ago. He said this was a world crisis and was not limited to the local market.
Saudi Arabia imports fish from Oman, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, which imports and re-exports it, and Pakistan, which is famous for its shrimp production.
Al-Shweiki dismissed rumors that the country was importing poor quality frozen fish from places such as Vietnam. He said the rumors were created by dishonest traders who want people to eat other kinds of meat. He said all imported fish are of a high quality.
The Red Sea is home to 662 varieties of coral. Coral in the region grows at between five millimeters and 25 millimeters annually. Coral reefs contribute directly or indirectly to the economies of various countries. While 12 percent of the world's fish production depends on coral, their formation also serves as a major tourist attraction. The reefs also play a major role in protecting coastlines because they serve as a natural shield against strong waves.