Destruction of Jordan's Ecology Will End Up Destroying Jordan's Economy

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Excerpts of an interesting article in The Jordan Times relating to the dangerous Jordanian habit of littering, for those of you who missed it.
[Aqaba's] unique marine habitat is beginning to lose its appeal among several tourist diving groups, who cite serious coral reef damage as a result of littering and other issues compromising their safety.

A prime attraction for divers worldwide and a key resource for tourism, Aqaba's diving sites that contain some of the world's most pristine coral reefs, are drawing criticism from several groups that expressed shock and dismay at their current condition.

In letters addressed to clubs in the area, several diving groups said the quality of certain dive sites were seriously affected by litter, while others wrote that they were looking to other destinations for future dive holidays. "All of our group had good words to say about you and... the people of Jordan... but are unlikely to come back to Jordan for a diving holiday," wrote British diver and reef conservationist David Prentice, following a diving expeditions in Aqaba.

A hotspot for thousands of Jordanians during the weekends, the southern shoreline is a key part of the problem. The beach is often littered with all kinds of rubbish by the end of the day — from cigarette butts, soda cans and plastic bags, to diapers, charcoal and even, on one occasion, the carcass of a goat — which find their way into the sea.

Although the Royal Marine Conservation Society (JREDS) and other community-based organizations conduct periodic clean-up campaigns to prevent additional damage to marine habitat, the problem prevails due to the lack of public awareness and weak enforcement of regulations.

JREDS Executive Director Fadi Sharaiha, who has led several awareness and clean-up drives in the area over the recent years, said attempts to change public behavior and understanding of the environment has been a challenge.

He acknowledged that the majority of the public have no regard for the conservation of the coral reef or the state of the public beach.

"We have done a lot over the past few years to step up awareness about the environment and the importance of the coral reef, but this has been difficult," said Sharaiha.

"Trying to change the mindsets of some of the older generation is as good as hopeless, that is why we are focusing our education on young people. As a nation, we have a problem when it comes to maintaining public spaces," he added.

Sharaiha said the problem exists at various levels, starting from the regular citizen all the way to those responsible for enforcement.

Currently [the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority] (ASEZA) and environmental rangers are responsible for monitoring violations and are authorized to issue fines.

Those littering can be fined between JD20-JD25, while Article 25 of the Environmental Protection Law stipulates a minimum penalty of JD10,000 for damaging coral, but it is usually never enforced, according to observers.

Sarah Lyle, a diver and underwater photographer from Ireland who has been traveling to Aqaba since 1998, told The Jordan Times, "The coral reefs in Aqaba are almost unique in the Red Sea in that they have not been devastated by over-diving, but from the level of rubbish that is being left on the beaches. Without pristine reefs, diving tourists will stop coming to Aqaba and probably opt for the cheaper, more accessible Egyptian Red Sea resorts."

Source: The Jordan Times, June 4, 2007


Blogger ELIAKIM said...

Nice blog

2/10/2009 6:07 PM  

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