Dumping ‘killing coral reef’

Truck tyres, concrete blocks and abandoned fishing nets are just some of the manmade items found lying on Bahrain’s seabed.

Environmentalists claim illegal dumping has destroyed much of the country’s marine life and habitats and is also threatening the survival of its coral reef.

They believe most of the damage has been caused by contractors dumping their rubbish into the sea and have called on the authorities to take tough action.

“There are truck tyres and fishing nets that have just been dumped there and these are death traps for all animals (sea life) because animals still go in and get trapped and die and they attract new animals,” Bahrain-based environmentalist Ben van Hoogen told the GDN.

“There are also building materials, bricks and broken concrete blocks and they are on and around the reef and because of this they are no longer blue and orange and different colours but they are now grey and dying.”

Mr van Hoogen called on the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife to establish a law enforcement team that would be able to safeguard Bahrain’s marine resources and life.

“The coastguard doesn’t have the time to do this, they need to be able to arrest those ship’s that are dumping these materials and then they must be fined heavily,” said Mr van Hoogen, who is head of operations of the Holland-based environmental company AniMedics.

“The damage you can’t ever express in amounts of money, it’s robbing the resources of fishermen, the environment, tourism and this pollution will backfire on the water we take from the sea.”

Mr van Hoogen, who also works at the Seal Rescue Rehabilitation Centre (SRRC) in Holland, is organising monthly clean-up dives to remove the rubbish from the coral reef and seabed and help support the rehabilitation of Bahrain’s marine life.

“Marine life is a very big part of Bahrainas it is an island and before it was full of fishermen, but many jobs have been lost because of the government reclaiming land and reefs are dying,” he said.

“Everyone blames the government for the reef dying but contractors are responsible for taking rubbish and dumping it near the coral reef and it kills them.

“You can kill a reef in a month but growing it back takes hundreds of years.

“Many species rely on reefs and if the reef is gone then marine life will go, that means the reef shark, dolphins and small fish – it has an effect on everything.

“We will do the clean-up in a very careful way and hopefully bring them (coral reef) back to health.”

The underwater clean-up initiative is being supported by the Coral Beach Diving School, which is organising the diving part of the project.

To participate, divers without equipment will pay BD55 and BD10 will go towards the charity initiative.

Divers with their own equipment will pay BD35 and BD10 will be donated to the cause.

The clean-up dives will take place once a month from the Coral Beach Club.

The first clean-up dive will take place this Friday at 9am. Divers will perform the clean-up at a spot which is a 35-minute boat ride southwest of Manama.

After the dive participants will be invited for a barbecue at the club.

Non-divers who would like to support the initiative are invited to join a beach clean-up at the Al Fateh Corniche that will be held alongside the underwater event.

“It will take many runs to clean just this one spot and really we need a full-time boat to go out so we can gather more and then we need a boat which we can use to load the things on,” added Mr van Hoogen.

Anyone interested in participating or supporting the initiative should contact Mr van Hoogen on 39800812.

To sign up to the dives in support of the charity initiative e-mail watersports@coralbeachbahrain.com. becky@gdn.com.bh