More than 50 fishermen staged a sit-in on the Sarafand coast yesterday to protest at the use of dynamite for illegal fishing in the area.
The protesters’ chief complaint was that the dynamite destroyed their nets and frightened the fish away from the coast, according to the head of the fish sellers’ association, Abu Hassan Slim.
Slim called on coastguard officials to strengthen their efforts to monitor the coast and arrest lawbreakers.
“This sit-in will continue until the proper arrangements are implemented,” he said.
Slim complained that the use of dynamite has negatively affected the livelihood of the local fishermen, threatening that boats would be delivered to officials as a symbolic protest.
He indicated that efforts to resolve the issue would be focused at the headquarters of the governorate of the south.
“We want the officials to give us the financial aid that was allocated to us and implement the decision to (let us join) the social security fund,” he said.
Fisherman Hussein Kharoubi, 50, said that the people using dynamite took advantage of nightfall to kill the fish.
“No one stops them and we don’t have any more fish on our coast,” he said.
Another fisherman, Mohammed Hussein, claimed that the people using dynamite had connections with “figures of authority” and were “protected”.
“We face two major hindrances in our trade; the dynamite and the Israeli siege of our coast. We barely catch two kilograms of fish a day now,” Hussein said.
He claimed that two people had been caught red-handed using dynamite, but remained under arrest for only 24 hours.
“The penalty for using dynamite for fishing is 70 days in prison, but these men were released because of their connections,” he said.
Also taking part in the sit-in was the head of the professional divers’ association, Mohammed Sarji, who warned that the use of dynamite could wipe out fishing resources completely.
“The most pressing danger is that the dynamite explodes very close to the oil refinery pipes and if there happens to be a leak, a catastrophe could happen,” he said.