Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat – Environmental experts in Saudi Arabia have warned against the Red Sea following in the footsteps of the Dead Sea if measures are not taken immediately to save the endangered marine life that has been affected by migration that is taking place on the Red Sea coasts and the damage caused by the conditions of the climate, indicating that most of the clean-up campaigns that were carried out by divers have been futile as a result of people’s behaviour.
Dr. Mohamed al Jahani, director of the forum organized by the Jeddah Chamber Of Commerce and Industry under the supervision of the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment, warned that the failure to take serious steps to protect the Red Sea would lead to its transformation into another Dead Sea and that “We should realize that the government institutions and Arab and international organizations cannot work alone to maintain and protect marine life. It is a national responsibility that is highlighted by our religion.”
Dr al Jahani pointed out, “The construction that is taking place on the coast has accelerated the movement of marine life away from its natural habitat as a result of destruction caused to its natural environment and this is a dangerous situation that requires decisive measures to be taken, large fines [to be imposed] and strict monitoring in order to control the dilemma that marine life of the Red Sea is being subjected to.”
“There are a number of awareness campaigns and individual and collective projects being undertaken by people who are interested in protecting the environment and concerned about the polluting of the coast by its visitors. Perhaps an environment-related authority should be established to monitor the coastal area openly in order to put an end to this discourteous phenomenon, especially during holiday periods and over weekends. If awareness is not followed by [the imposing of] penalties, then it would be fruitless,” explained Dr al Jahani.
Dr Mohamed al Jahani highlighted the importance of imposing penalties upon those who throw litter into the Red Sea. He said, “Despite the various campaigns that were conducted to clean the bottom of the sea, divers find that litter has been thrown there once again when they return to the area that they had previously cleaned. Awareness must start at home and in schools to teach the younger generations the importance of environmental conservation.”
“The Red Sea is one of the most beautiful seas bordering the Arabian Peninsula and is the richest sea in the world in terms of the diversity of coral reefs; it is estimated that there are over 250 different kinds,” Dr. Mohamed Al Jahani said.
Al Jahani warned, “The Red Sea is about to lose its most beautiful features due to erroneous behavior and pollution from which it is suffering.”
He indicated that the marine areas that are close to cities are the most polluted because of the increase in population and the high number of buildings and constructions, sewage problems and thermal pollution as a result of the proximity to factories.
“One problem that the Red Sea is suffering from is the irresponsible establishment of tourist resorts and buildings since it requires getting rid of large areas [of water] by filling these areas with earth or sand, building concrete bases on the coral reefs, in addition to the erosion of coastal area, and waste and sewage being dumped into the sea, increasing the growth of rockweed that blocks sunlight from reaching the reefs and leads to their destruction,” al Jahani said.
He added, “Fishing also contributes to creating an imbalance to coral reefs and a number of kinds of marine species, and this is detrimental to reefs and other fish. Furthermore, there are the destructive methods being used in fishing such as the use of cyanide and other toxic chemicals and the use of explosive materials. Seawater is being polluted by petrochemicals and oils from ships.”
Al Jahani asserted that the increase in the waters’ temperature as a result of global warming is also a contributing factor to the death of coral reefs, in addition to litter and waste that are dumped into the sea by visitors and tourists especially plastic materials that can kill sea turtles as they block their intestines.
The president of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Saleh Bin Ali al Turki called for benefiting from the Jeddah forum by becoming more acquainted with the investment opportunities that are available within the environmental field.
He indicated that Saudi Arabia is diverse due to its vast geographical area that is made up of deserts that extend from the north to the south and the numerous oases with fertile soil. In addition, the mountain environment is integral to the environmental diversity since the mountain peaks form a chain that stretches along the Red Sea from the west to the south of the kingdom.