DISTRAUGHT fishermen on Al Ghous Corniche in Muharraq have been given a five-day ultimatum to leave peacefully or face being arrested and their equipment confiscated.
Around 300 fishermen were ordered by the Muharraq Municipality to leave the corniche and other coastlines used as unofficial jetties across the governorate by yesterday.
The GDN reported yesterday that it considered fishermen’s occupation of the plots of land as trespassing on public property as they set up cabins, stored their equipment and docked their boats since they had nowhere else to go.
Some fishermen moved to the nearby Al Ghous Public Park to store their fishing equipment, causing uproar among families in the area.
Municipal officials cleared all the coasts of fishermen, their rest areas and furniture yesterday, but decided to give Al Ghous fishermen until early Sunday morning due to their large numbers to vacate the place.
Muharraq Municipal Council chairman Mohammed Al Sinan who was present at the site yesterday managed to put off the officials, but fishermen were informed that though they were not prohibited from using the sea they would be arrested if caught on shore.
“When I asked the officials on how the fishermen would reach the sea with no jetty, they said using the shore to sail is prohibited since it is an unofficial jetty, but being in the sea was not,” Mr Al Sinan told the GDN from the site.
“It is clear they don’t want the 300 fishermen at the location and want to scare them off – everyone is asking after the ultimatum of five days is over where those fishermen will go to reach the sea.
“I mean since fishermen in other jetties in Muharraq have no space for them, they would have to get their boats using a helicopter.
“The whole situation is haram and unfair and fishermen have every right to use the coast as any other citizen.”
Mr Al Sinan said the office of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa has been urged to find a solution or else the fishermen would soon lose their source of income.
“Let’s say that those fishermen sneak in from the location every day to the sea before municipal officials come, it would be costly to take the boat and equipment back and forth with transportation costing BD20 daily for the round trip,” he said.
“The price of fish will just double to match the transportation costs and storage places for equipment since they can’t fit inside a house and can’t just be left on the road.”
The Muharraq Governorate has the highest number of fishermen, accounting for 80 per cent of the country’s 2,500 fishing licences.
The council during its weekly meeting on Sunday urged the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry to revamp Al Ghous Corniche and declare it a permanent jetty for fishermen.
“It is much easier to have Al Ghous coast declared an official jetty; the ministry can later put in two wooden warehouses to store the equipment and allow boats to dock there,” said Mr Al Sinan.
“A few years ago the government was right in tearing down portable cabins and other facilities set up by the fishermen because they were being misused, but having a shaded open rest area doesn’t harm anyone.
“If the ministry believes it is wrong for people to put up such facilities then it should be doing it by itself, just out of compassion.”
The GDN reported yesterday that Muharraq has three fishing locations.
The Muharraq Fishermen’s Jetty became the official jetty with it accommodating around 250 professional fishermen and a huge waiting list of around 100 fishermen, while fishermen were evicted from the Abu Maher jetty for a major private development and they joined the others in Al Ghous jetty.
This meant that around 300 fishermen were now located in Al Ghous jetty with them storing their equipment in the adjacent public park.
The proposal to set up Al Ghous as an official jetty was passed by councillors on Sunday and referred to the ministry.