Illegal ‘blast fishing’ to blame for rise in shark sightings, says Lebanese marine expert

Illegal ‘blast fishing’ to blame for rise in shark sightings, says Lebanese marine expert
An illegal fishing method that uses explosives is being blamed for the rising numbers of sharks off the coast of Lebanon, amid social media panic about sightings and possible attacks. (Twitter)
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Updated 23 June 2023
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Illegal ‘blast fishing’ to blame for rise in shark sightings, says Lebanese marine expert

Illegal ‘blast fishing’ to blame for rise in shark sightings, says Lebanese marine expert
  • Resorts have installed warning signs and told swimmers to be aware in the water following posts on social media showing sharks close to popular beaches
  • Videos have shown the predators off the Sarafand-Zahrani shore to the south and off the Kaslik complex in Jounieh

BEIRUT: An illegal fishing method that uses explosives is being blamed for the rising numbers of sharks off the coast of Lebanon, amid social media panic about sightings and possible attacks.
Resorts have installed warning signs and told swimmers to be aware in the water following posts on social media showing sharks close to popular beaches.
Videos have shown the predators off the Sarafand-Zahrani shore to the south and off the Kaslik complex in Jounieh, while fishermen were recorded on Friday catching a small shark off Ouzai to the south of Beirut.
Mohammed Al-Sarji, a marine expert and spokesman for the Lebanon branch of the global diving group Naui, told Arab News that he believed sharks were being attracted close to shore due to illegal “blast fishing”, where explosives are dropped into shallow waters to quickly stun and kill large numbers of fish.
“This makes it easier for sharks to compete with fishermen for their fish,” Al-Sarji said. “This changes the behavior of sharks.”
He said that there had never been a fatal attack in Lebanese waters but warned that the predators were still a threat “if they mistake a (human) for their usual prey.”
Al-Sarji said blast fishing was dangerous, and that the explosive used was usually unstable ammonium nitrates found in agricultural fertilizers, mixed with sawdust — similar to that which destroyed Beirut’s port in Aug. 2020.
“Blast” fishermen prepare the mix by heating, then place it in bags and attach a fuse, before throwing the bomb in waters as close as 10 meters from the shore. “The bags explode, dead fish float to the surface and are then collected and sold.”
Two people were killed last year while preparing their explosives, he said, adding: “Despite this, fishermen still use it.”
Al-Sarji said blast fishing had helped strip Lebanese waters of fish, with many species including the striped red mullet all but gone. “Our sea is fish-free because we follow an unsustainable style of fishing.”
The Agriculture Ministry said that sharks in Lebanese waters were largely non-aggressive “unless provoked.”
It added that they were “environmentally important fish and are considered necessary to preserve marine ecosystems”. It wasn’t new to see the predators in Lebanese waters, it added.
“They have been present for thousands of years and Lebanon is obliged to protect these species,” it said. “All fishermen and seafarers need not be scared of these sharks, and they should protect them.”
Lebanon’s fishing industry is chaotic and lacks enforcement of regulation. The Agriculture Ministry estimates the number of fishermen at 8,000, whereas Al-Sarji estimates it at 100,000.
Al-Sarji warned that is illegal to catch and kill sharks in the Mediterranean under an EU agreement aimed at protecting marine populations.


Egypt mourns death of Iran’s president

A person walks past a banner with a picture of the late Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on a street in Tehran, Iran May 20, 2024.
A person walks past a banner with a picture of the late Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on a street in Tehran, Iran May 20, 2024.
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Egypt mourns death of Iran’s president

A person walks past a banner with a picture of the late Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on a street in Tehran, Iran May 20, 2024.
  • The Egyptian president expressed Egypt’s solidarity with the leadership and people of Iran during this tragic time

CAIRO: Egypt mourned the deaths of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Egypt’s presidency said in a statement: “It is with deep grief and sorrow that the Arab Republic of Egypt mourns the death of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and their escorts on Sunday in a tragic crash.

“President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi extends his sincere condolences to the people of Iran, asking Allah to envelop President Raisi and the deceased with his mercy and grant solace and comfort to their families.”

The Egyptian president expressed Egypt’s solidarity with the leadership and people of Iran during this tragic time.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry extended his condolences to the Iranian government and people over the deaths of Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian, according to ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid.

A helicopter carrying Raisi, Amir-Abdollahian, and several other officials crashed in mountainous terrain in the country’s northwest on Sunday. On Monday, Tehran announced the deaths of Raisi, Amir-Abdollahian, and their accompanying delegation in the crash.

 


Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’

Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’
Updated 20 May 2024
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Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’

Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’
  • Katz denounced the move as a “scandalous decision” that amounted to “a frontal attack... on the victims of October 7“
  • The minister added that Israel would establish a special committee to fight the ICC prosecutor’s efforts to secure a warrant

JERUSALEM: Israel on Monday slammed as a “historical disgrace” an application by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The prosecutor, Karim Khan, applied for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant as well as top Hamas leaders on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that Khan “in the same breath mentions the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense of the State of Israel alongside the abominable Nazi monsters of Hamas — a historical disgrace that will be remembered forever.”
The prosecutor said he was seeking warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant for crimes including “wilful killing,” “extermination and/or murder” and “starvation.”
Katz denounced the move as a “scandalous decision” that amounted to “a frontal attack... on the victims of October 7” when Hamas launched their attack on Israel, sparking the Gaza war.
The minister added that Israel would establish a special committee to fight the ICC prosecutor’s efforts to secure a warrant, and also embark on a diplomatic push against it.
Katz said he planned to “speak with foreign ministers in leading countries of the world so that they oppose the prosecutor’s decision and announce that, even if orders are issued, they do not intend to enforce them on the leaders of the State of Israel.”


35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry

35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry
Updated 20 May 2024
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35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry

35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry
  • 106 Palestinians were killed and 176 injured in the past 24 hours

DUBAI: More than 35,562 Palestinians have been killed and 79,652 injured in the Israeli military offensive on Gaza since Oct. 7, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Monday.
One hundred and six Palestinians were killed and 176 injured in the past 24 hours, the ministry added.


Source close to Hezbollah says 4 dead in Israeli strikes on Lebanon

Source close to Hezbollah says 4 dead in Israeli strikes on Lebanon
Updated 20 May 2024
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Source close to Hezbollah says 4 dead in Israeli strikes on Lebanon

Source close to Hezbollah says 4 dead in Israeli strikes on Lebanon
  • The source close to Hezbollah told AFP that “at least four Hezbollah fighters were killed in Israeli raids on two different sites in southern Lebanon“
  • The Israeli military said fighter jets struck “a Hezbollah terrorist cell”

BEIRUT: A source close to Hezbollah said four fighters were killed Monday in south Lebanon, with the Iran-backed group announcing two dead and a retaliatory attack, while Israel claimed strikes.
Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, has traded near daily cross-border fire with Israeli forces since the Palestinian group’s October 7 attack on southern Israel that sparked the war in Gaza.
The source close to Hezbollah told AFP that “at least four Hezbollah fighters were killed in Israeli raids on two different sites in southern Lebanon,” identifying the locations as Naqura on the coast and Mais Al-Jabal, a border village to the east.
The Shiite Muslim movement said two of its fighters, both from Naqura, had been killed, without providing further details.
The Israeli military said fighter jets struck “a Hezbollah terrorist cell” and a launch post in the Mais Al-Jabal area, while Israeli army “artillery fired to remove a threat” in the Naqura area.
Hezbollah said it launched a heavy rocket attack at an Israeli army barracks in the country’s north “in retaliation” for the Naqura strike, while also announcing other attacks on Israeli positions.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency (NNA) reported Israeli strikes on Mais Al-Jabal and Naqura, where it said Israel fired near Hezbollah-affiliated rescue personnel and wounded a civilian.
The fighting has killed at least 423 people in Lebanon, mostly militants but also including 82 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
Israel says 14 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed on its side of the border.
The violence has raised fears of all-out conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, which went to war in 2006.


War monitor says Israeli strikes kill six pro-Iran fighters in Syria

War monitor says Israeli strikes kill six pro-Iran fighters in Syria
Updated 20 May 2024
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War monitor says Israeli strikes kill six pro-Iran fighters in Syria

War monitor says Israeli strikes kill six pro-Iran fighters in Syria
  • A Hezbollah source said that at least one fighter from the group was killed in Israeli strikes in the Qusayr area

Beirut: A war monitor said at least six pro-Iran fighters were killed Monday in Israeli strikes in Syria near the Lebanese border, in an area where Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah group holds sway.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said “Israeli strikes targeted two positions of pro-Iran groups in the Homs region,” including “a Hezbollah site in the Qusayr area” near the border where “six Iran-backed fighters were killed.”
The Observatory did not specify their nationalities.
A Hezbollah source told AFP that at least one fighter from the group was killed in Israeli strikes in the Qusayr area.
Israel rarely comments on individual strikes in Syria but has repeatedly said it will not allow its arch-enemy Iran to expand its presence there.
On Saturday, the Observatory said an Israeli drone strike near the Lebanese border targeted a vehicle carrying “a Hezbollah commander and his companion,” without reporting casualties.
Hezbollah did not announce any deaths among its ranks on Saturday.
On May 9, Israeli strikes on Syria targeted facilities belonging to Iraq’s Al-Nujaba armed movement, the Observatory and the pro-Iran group said, with Damascus saying an unidentified building was attacked.
The Israeli military has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in its northern neighbor in 2011, mainly targeting army positions and Iran-backed fighters including from Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.
But the strikes increased after Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip began on October 7, when the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group launched an unprecedented attack against Israel.
Syria’s war has killed more than half a million people and displaced millions more since it erupted in 2011 after Damascus cracked down on anti-government protests.