By: Mohamed Nazzal
Published Sunday, November 17, 2013
The fishermen of Daliyeh in Beirut’s Raouche woke to the noise of drilling and trucks early Wednesday morning, November 13. A bulldozer was carrying the debris piled in front of the port, which it had brought from somewhere a few months ago, and throwing it into the sea.
The fishermen lost their cool, knowing very well the damage this will cause. Fisherman Amer Mahfouz shouted at the bulldozer driver. “Stop,” he ordered. “We will stop you by force. You don’t know what you’re doing. This rubble will cause the fish to leave the area. You are destroying the fish population.”
The driver called the company he works for and informed them of the fishermen’s reaction. The company called another company, its partner in the works, to solve the issue. One is owned by Jihad al-Arab and the other by Milad Abou Rjeily.
“What shall we do with the rubble?” they asked the fishermen. Mahfouz and his colleagues replied, “It does not concern us. Move it some other place. Take it back from where you brought it, far away from Raouche.”
The bulldozer went back to work, and the fishermen stopped it again. This time they raised the tone of their threats, so the driver stopped completely.
Speaking to Al-Akhbar, Mahfouz, AKA Abu Adal, wondered, “Who allowed them to throw the rubble into the sea? It is garbage, metal, and dirt. There is nothing more harmful to the marine environment. Where is the Environment Ministry in all this?”
“True, we had requested that the rubble be removed. However, it was to go back to work in the blocked port. But we cannot accept that it was done at our expense. They want to save money. They do not want to pay for the cost of transporting the rubble, which they brought, not us. It won’t hurt them to throw it into the sea, but it would damage us.”
The fishermen are trying to protect themselves and preserve their trade. Maybe without knowing, they are giving too much credit to the Lebanese Environment Ministry, which is completely absent from the scene.
“They need to thank us,” the fishermen said yesterday. “We are guarding this heritage site from destruction. But it is strange that something like this happens in the middle of Beirut. Where’s the municipality and the environmental associations?”
The fishermen described the harm done by throwing this type of garbage into the sea. “The fishing populations would collapse completely if it happens. Some of the fish only come to the rocks beneath the water. When they are replaced by solid waste, the fish will go very far away. The crabs will die and none will return to the rocks. The octopuses will disappear from the area, along with many other species of fish.”
The fishermen said the Ministry of Works and Transportation had promised to remove the rubble. They asked the director of land and sea transport, Abdul-Hafiz al-Qaissi, to intervene and prevent the two companies from throwing the waste into the sea.
Al-Akhbar tried to contact Qaissi on Wednesday, but his phone was closed all day.
The debris in question was brought by a company that works on construction sites in several areas, far away from Daliyeh. Legal disposal would have come at a cost, but dumping the waste in the sea would’ve saved them thousands of dollars.
The fishermen know this very well. So do some environmental activists who are raising their voices in protest.
Yesterday, the fishermen were able to stop the assault by their own strength. They also announce they are willing to sacrifice everything for their rights and will not remain silent in front of the “big people.”