Tens of tons of dead fish have washed up on the shores of the Qaraoun Reservoir in Lebanon in recent days. Hundreds of fish of various sizes died and were stranded on the edge of the five-kilometer-long reservoir. A bad smell also rose in the air. It is not yet known what caused the fish to die in the Qaraoun Reservoir as reported by AFP.
According to some local fishermen, the number of dead and stranded fish in the reservoir was very large, and had never been that many before. An initial report said the fish’s deaths were caused by a virus. But one water expert said that the death of the fish could also be caused by pollution. Several people tried to clean the rim of the reservoir by shoveling it and putting it in carts. Their efforts were assisted by heavy equipment which scooped up more fish and put them in the back of the truck. “This is our third day here to collect dead fish,” said Nassrallah el-Hajj of the Litani River Authority.
He added that those who were shoveling the fish had already taken at least 40 tons of dead fish. At the edge of the reservoir, a fisherman named Mahmoud Afif (61) described the dead fish as a disaster.
“In my life, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said the father of two. Quran Reservoir was built to accommodate the Litani River water in 1959 which is used for electricity generation and provides water for irrigation. But in recent years, experts have warned that the reservoir is becoming increasingly toxic because it is an estuary for sewage, industrial waste, and agricultural runoff containing pesticides.
Since 2018 fishing in the reservoir has been prohibited because the fish there have been declared unfit for human consumption. However, fish from the reservoir continue to appear in several markets. The Litani River Authority and the Nature Protection Society in Lebanon warned about the virus epidemic there and called for banned fishing in the Litani River as well as in the Quran Reservoir. The authority reported it was likely that the virus had only attacked goldfish while four other fish species did not appear to be affected. Kamal Slim, a water expert who has been sampling water from the reservoir for the past 15 years, says pollution could also be a cause.
Tonnes of dead fish wash up on the shore of polluted Lebanese lake
QARAOUN, Lebanon (Reuters) – Tonnes of dead fish have washed up on the banks of a lake on Lebanon’s Litani River, engulfing a nearby village in a pungent smell, in a disaster blamed on polluted waters.
Volunteers collected rotting fish carcasses near the Qaraoun lake on Lebanon’s longest river, the Litani, where activists have warned for years of water pollution caused by sewage and waste.
Piles of garbage drifted in the lake near the dead fish. Swarms of flies spread near the reservoir and thousands of fish were decomposing in already dirty waters.
“This phenomenon appeared on the shore of the lake several days ago,” said Ahmad Askar, a local activist. “The fish started floating up, and in abnormal quantities…It’s unacceptable.”
At least 40 tonnes have turned up dead in a few days, numbers which Askar and fishermen in Qaraoun described as unprecedented. They called on the Litani river authority to find the cause and go after anyone dumping wastewater into the lake.
The river authority said this week that the fish were toxic and carried a virus, urging people to avoid fishing all along the Litani due to “an aggravated disaster that threatens public health”.
The pollution prompted a ban since 2018 on fishing in the reservoir, which was created in 1959 with a large dam to collect water for hydropower and irrigation.
Last month, volunteers removed clumps of sticky tar from some beaches along the Lebanese coast after an oil spill that environmentalists warned would harm marine life.
Ecological disasters are the last thing Lebanon needs as it suffers through an alarming financial collapse and the aftermath of a huge explosion that devastated Beirut port last August.