Many boats are sitting idle in Bahrain's harbors due to a fishermen's strike. Photo by Jayson De Leon via Flickr.
Grouper, mackerel, and other local fish are off the menu indefinitely in many Bahrani households, as almost 1,700 of the Gulf state's fishermen went on strike this week in protest of coastal construction. The tiny island country has big plans to diversify its oil-dependent economy to attract more industry and tourism, but the fishermen say such development has already taken away 80 percent of their income.
"Our demands are reasonable, we want something that can work for both of us and for the future of Bahrain," Waheed Al Dossary, the honorary president of the Bahrain Fishermen's Society said on Sunday. "We want the government to protect what's left of our marine resources, we need to protect our fish resources for our children. No country should give away its natural resources in favour of development projects."
The fishermen and their allies are asking for compensation for lost income and protection for ports and fisheries, nearly three-fourths of which have already become unusable due to land reclamation and territorial changes.
Supporter Jawad Fairooz, the chairman of the Bahrain parliament's public utilities and environment affairs committee, is pushing a proposal that would use "taxes taken from all of those who have harmed the marine environment, whether government organisations or private investors" to create a compensation fund for the fishermen. "This fund is the only way to ensure that fishermen's livelihood, which is nearing extinction, is somehow protected," he said.
Unfortunately, the fund won't protect them from global warming, which is already causing sea levels in the area to rise one centimeter every 10 years--and is worsened by some of the same rapid urbanization the fishermen are protesting. "The first to suffer would be the fragile ecology and aquatic wealth," cautioned Jaser Rabadi, the West Asia representative of the World Meteorological Organisation. "For populations very heavily dependent on the sea, that paints a grim picture." Via: "Rethink Vision 2030 plea by fishermen," Gulf Daily News
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