- Posted April 25, 2012 by
Team iReport featured this story
Careless Fishing Endangers Marine Life Along the Coast of Oman
- jmsaba, CNN iReport producer
Ive lived and worked in Oman for ten years. I teach visual arts (painting, printmaking, and drawing) at the American International School in the capital, Muscat. On weekends and holidays, I often drive 6-8 hours south to explore the more remote coast of Oman with 4WD and Kayaks. Oman has over 1600 kilometers of mostly undeveloped coast between UAE and Yemen. Ive made over 100 of these trips since 2002. When I first arrived, I found much of Oman’s coastline to be pristine and unspoiled with stretches of white sand beach and amazing cliffs. Development in Oman is happening at a frenetic pace, most of which has brought a better quality of life for Omanis. But this development has also created some serious environmental issues. Over the past ten years, heavily subsidized commercial fishing has increased, creating tons of plastic waste and thousands of discarded nets. These discarded nets create a hazard for a variety of marine life including dolphins and sea turtles which we regularly find washed up dead on our favorite camping beaches. Local fishermen often abandon their tangled nets as they are easy and inexpensive to replace. As fish populations have declined, I have also observed that nets are being set closer and closer to shore. Over the years, I have witnessed dozens of dead turtles tangled in these abandoned nets. This video which I shot last month off the coast of Ras Madrakah, shows a small turtle tangled in a net. I came across this turtle while kayaking between Ras Madrakah and Ras Markaz. I was able to pull the turtle into my kayak and cut it free from the net with a Swiss army knife. It was nearly dead from exhaustion, but was able to swim away. It’s very sad what has happened along this section of once pristine coast. Education is the solution, educating the fishermen, but more importantly their children. Oman does not have vast oil reserves like its neighbors, so it is very keen on developing a tourism industry, but they will first need to take a serious look at what's going inside their country. I hope that you can use this video and help bring light to this issue. I also thought this might be a good piece for your Inside the Middle East segment which is popular in Oman.