Save Dahab Coral Reefs
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Save Dahab’s Coral Reefs
The 80km coastline of Dahab (Environmentally Managed Area) is one of the world’s most important areas of natural coral reefs in the world, hosting many different fish species, 40% of which are not found anywhere else in the world. So important are the reefs of Dahab, that the whole coastline was declared a protected area in 1996 by Prime Ministerial Decree no.33/1996, because of its unique bio-cultural diversity and recognising its unique importance.
The greatest financial value of these natural resources to the country is the income received from tourism; both national and international tourists flock to Dahab every year to enjoy the crystal clear warm waters, world-class scuba and free diving opportunities. The reefs of the Red Sea are internationally renowned and as a marine environment, they are both unique and incredibly important. Given the recent declaration that the Great Barrier Reef off the Australian coast, is now officially dead, following similar abuses there; the Red Sea reefs are even more important, as they offer insight into how we can help prevent such natural disasters from occurring again.
Currently there is a conflict of interest between the Bedouins’ rights to fish, which was agreed originally to encourage the Bedouin population to settle in Dahab. At this time the Bedouin population was very small and their fishing was for their own subsistence, now the population has grown so large, coupled with the fact that the fish caught are being sold for profit rather than being for personal use. Bedouins from older generations realise that there are a lot less fish and understand the need to do something about it now, before it is too late.
While realizing that Bedouins had historical rights to fish these reefs, it is also essential to realise that the current level of fishing is unsustainable, therefore it is essential that the conflict between fishing, recreational and other uses is resolved amicably as soon as possible. As a multiple-use managed area, it is urgent that the initial plans to create zones in Dahab Environmentally Managed Area for different uses are implemented, so that both fishing and other recreational activities can be effectively managed and co-exist sustainably.
Although there were initially plans to open a branch of the Protected Areas Management Unit in Dahab, unfortunately this was never realized, and to date, Dahab’s coastline remains unprotected.
Currently, both Bedouins and non-indigenous fishers exploit the coral reefs unchecked, using destructive and illegal fishing gear such as small holed nets and spear guns, which will result in injuries and maybe even deaths to locals or tourists, in the future. Large numbers of snorkelers are ill-informed and are allowed to trample the reef flat, killing corals that will never recover.
The current two casual staff employed by the National Park, to monitor Dahab’s coastline are simply not enough to manage an area of up to 80 km’s and therefore unable to do their job properly and more importantly, they do not have the legal backing to stop, for example, fishing in established dive sites and are therefore ineffective in stopping any illegal activity.
Proper reinforcement of existing laws could provide both subsistence for the Bedouin population and support tourism in a sustainable manner.
As suggested in the original management plan for the protected area, we would like to emphasize the absolute urgency of establishing a branch of the Protected Areas Management Unit, dedicated to Dahab in order to halt the terminal damage being done daily by miss-use. Put quite simply, the reefs of Dahab are dying at an alarming rate as are whole species of fish too and if nothing is done about it soon, there will be no reefs for future generations to enjoy. The reefs are an integral part of Egypt’s natural heritage and to lose them is to lose part of Egypt itself.
We want to protect Dahab Coral reefs from more damage to ensure that the reef and the fish population will be allowed to recover enough to benefit everyone.
We SIGN to ask for the implementation of the plans to create zones in Dahab Environmentally Managed Area for different uses and for the establishment of a branch of the Protected Areas Management Unit for Dahab.
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