Kuwait Fish Crisis Leaves Thousands Jobless
More than 2,000 tons of dead fish have been washed ashore in Kuwait in a yet unexplained, month-long phenomenon that has left a bustling fish market deserted and thousands out of work, reported the Gulf Daily News.
Contradictory statements by the government and officials on the cause have triggered angry criticism and various organizations in the state have been accused of contaminating Gulf waters off Kuwait.
Experts say the loss so far is equivalent to four years of Kuwait's annual consumption of fish - a main staple in the state.
The extent of the disaster has prompted a call for a special session of parliament, which is on summer recess, said the paper.
Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah, has met officials investigating the cause.
"We have been on land for more than a month ... I don't have any money and have eight children to support back home," Egyptian fisherman Massoud Omar said.
Some 4,000 fishermen - mainly from Egypt, Bangladesh and India - work in Kuwait where 1.4 million of the 2.2m population are foreigners.
"I can't eat or drink and nobody is helping me except God," said 34-year-old Omar whose home in Kuwait is a small fishing boat.
Earlier this month, the government, under public pressure, banned fishing. It later deployed the military to help clean up millions of dead fish from the shoreline as the stench from their rotting bodies spread.
Hundreds of small fishing boats are anchored near the fish market in Kuwait City in the hope that the ban will be lifted soon.
"But who wants to eat Kuwaiti fish. Not even if they export it, will they find customers," said a Kuwaiti professional, adding that Kuwaitis were bringing in fish from Saudi Arabia.
Mustafa Ismail, who supports a large family back in Egypt, said fellow fishermen are "waiting for the government to give us the green signal to resume fishing. It is a great loss, we used to make about 250-300 Kuwaiti dinars (BD302-360) a day...".
"We need someone to help us, we are only eating once a day." – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)