AL WAKRA, a small town situated halfway between Doha and Mesaieed, was once a busy place for fishing and pearl collection in the country.
However, the current spate of development in the coastal area is robbing fishermen of their means of livelihood.
Experts say that unabated construction works have destroyed small eco-system. Important geographical features of the area have been lost with the removal of mangroves, which serve as the reproduction centres for fishes.
This has led to the disappearance of some precious species of fish from the coastal area.
According to recent studies by Supreme Council of Environment and Natural Reserves (SCENR), more than 20 species of fishes have disappeared from Qatar’s sea water.
“Ten years ago this area was truly a treasure trove with a variety of fishes. Different types of small fishes were common here.
But when the mangroves were removed, we lost this treasure,” said Moideen Sha, a fisherman with 15 years experience in Qatar’s waters.
Even though the fishermen in Qatar have a variety of new advanced technologies in their possessions, the disappearance of fishes has made business tough for them.
The change in the coastal setting has also affected the environment and sea water.
A recent study conducted by the SCENR reveals that the temperature of the sea water has been touching 36.7 degree Celsius in recent times. It was also revealed that the growing temperature of open sea water was posing serious threats to the country’s unique coral deposit.
The fishermen community in the area has been engaged in deep-sea fishing to make both ends meet. But when the Qatari government brought restriction on deep-sea fishing, the community lost the privilege for selling fishes in neighbouring countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
“It is becoming very difficult for us to survive. Earlier, we had the opportunity to sell fish in the markets of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Now, there are restrictions in travelling to these countries.
Compared to Qatar, we actually have a better bargain in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia,” Muthayya, another fisherman, said.
Qatar’s coastal areas are home to many ecologically sensitive species, including sea turtles. Of the total eight species of sea turtle found across the world, four are in Qatar waters. Shrimp is another species that has vanished from Qatar’s coastal water since 1992.
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