The issue of environment in Kuwait is serious, especially when it comes to marine life. While everyone agrees with the importance of protecting marine life from pollution, the issue in the end represents a shared responsibility, and it needs firm decisions and continuous follow-up, away from courtesy or ‘wasta’.
We know that there are many reasons for what causes pollution. For centuries, humans have depended on fish as an important source of food. Meanwhile, the marine environment has throughout history suffered from manmade problems, including overfishing, dropping chemical waste in the sea, climate change, as well as radioactive and oil pollution.
In recent years, fishkill has been a major concern in the region, especially with the pictures of dead fish going viral online. Those huge amounts of dead fish have represented a danger to the population if they consume it by mistake or leave it rotting on the beach.
There were concerns about the percentage of pollution in the country, with about 95 percent of drinking water coming from desalination plants. In 2017 a statement from the Environment Public Authority said that the fishkill phenomenon happens due to the high concentration of phosphates in the gulf waters, as well as bacteria and petroleum hydrocarbons in the sea at high rates.
But a number of state institutions had rejected the accusations that were made by the Environment Public Authority, such as the Ministry of Public Works; and even the fishermen who were also accused of overfishing in Kuwait.
The fishkill phenomenon has happened repeatedly in Kuwait since it was first detected in 1999, and many reasons have been blamed for causing this problem, including the disposal of sewage as well as industrial waste and chemicals in the sea, Kuwait’s parliamentarians expressed concern over the subject, as the death of fish requires a responsible position through an investigation by the Parliamentary Environment Committee, in order to reveal the real reasons for the recurrence of this phenomenon, which threatens the country’s fisheries and raises concerns about the presence of toxic and harmful substances to the environment and human health. I believe that the Environment Public Authority is doing its best but, there are still more efforts that are needed to support its mission.
The Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) has joined the United Nations in celebrating the occasion of the World Day of Oceans on June 8, with the aim of advocating for the preservation of oceans, because of their role in daily life, and as a major source of food and water for many arid countries.
Experts say that the death of fish in Kuwait is linked to the degradation of proteins and industrial detergents emitted with sewage, which have not been treated efficiently or have not been removed at all, which led to the formation of layers of algae.
I believe that the efforts of the Environment Public Authority must be taken into account, and it should be supported with effort from the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research and others in this field. It is necessary to enforce control and punish anyone whose irresponsibility damages the marine and land environment.
We really need effective action to focus on scientific research, as well as effective planning, strategy and strict law enforcement. Furthermore, we need administrative policies, work plans and promotion of public awareness regarding environment protection. The public should not be allowed to throw garbage and trash on the beach, and the environment police should be given more power and support to monitor those ill acts.
I believe that environmental control is a joint responsibility of all state institutions and the public. There is a need for continuous coordination with state bodies, especially the Ministry of Public Works, which has field teams that carry out daily and periodic tours, in cooperation with the environment police and the Environment Public Authority, to check rainfall outlets, and monitor their illegal use to discharge sewage and other waste.
By Muna Al-Fuzai