by Salama Harby, Wael Naguib
SOUTH SINAI, Egypt, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Looking at the dead fish on the Ras Mohammed nature reserve shores of the Red Sea, Mohammed Salem said those who murdered the fish were criminals and should be put behind bars.
"During the last few days, we found a large amount of dead fish, killed by the explosions by fishermen," Salem, general director of the national parks in South Sinai province, told Xinhua.
Fishing by means of explosions at the Ras Mohammed National Park, some 25 km southwest of the Egyptian resort of Sharm El- Sheikh, has led to the death of rare fish and dolphins.
Last week, local police arrested 16 fishermen who used dynamite to fish in the nature reserve. They had already been fined 1 million Egyptian pounds (about 177,000 U.S. dollars) for the damage they caused to the coral reefs. They might also be sentenced to at least three-year jail terms according to Egyptian law.
The Red Sea boasts a rich and diverse ecosystem. More than 1, 200 species of fish have been recorded in the area. And 10 percent of them are native, including 42 species of deepwater fish.
Aiming to protect the special biodiversity of the area, the Egyptian government has set up the national park in 1983. There has been effective protection of local marine life over the past three decades. The place has become a major destination for diving enthusiasts.
But the recent dead fish showed explosions have posed a great threat to the environment.
"Among the dead fish were rare Napoleon fish, whose number is very small in the Aqaba Bay," Salem said.