In Lebanon, tons of dead fish in a polluted lake

A Lebanese official said on Thursday that tons of dead fish have been found in recent days on the banks of a heavily polluted artificial lake in eastern Lebanon.

According to local fishermen, the exact causes of this environmental disaster, although unknown, are unknown.

According to an initial report by the Lebanese River Authority and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon, a virus is responsible for the disaster at Lake Qaraun, on the Litani River.

According to the two entities, only carp were contaminated.

But high levels of pollution in the lake may also be at the core of this massacre, estimates Kamal Slim, a researcher specializing in the ecology of aquatic environments.

The stranded carp were picked up on 29 April 2021 (AFP – JOSEPH EID) on the banks of Lake Qaroon in eastern Lebanon.

Without analysis, it is difficult to determine, the researcher believes, who has been taking millions of water samples for 15 years.

The lake is home to cyanobacteria that can release toxins from pollution and toxic light during the warmer months, he explains.

“Another possibility is very toxic ammonium”, or a bacterium that can attack more vulnerable fish during the breeding season.

An AFP correspondent found that hundreds of fish were lying on the shores of the lake on Thursday morning, causing a strong smell of the surroundings.

The men were hitting the dead bodies with a shovel, while a mechanical shovel was putting the rear of a truck.

“This is our third day to collect dead fish,” said Nasrallah al-Hajj of the fishing Litani River Authority. “We have transported about 40 tons so far”.

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A staffed carp found washed up on the banks of Lake Qaroon in eastern Lebanon by April 29, 2021 (AFP - JOSEPH EID).

A staffed carp found washed up on the banks of Lake Qaroon in eastern Lebanon by April 29, 2021 (AFP – JOSEPH EID).

On the water’s edge, a 61-year-old fisherman, Mahmood Afif, describes a “disaster”.

“I never saw anything like this,” he says.

The Qaraoun lake was built in 1959 to create electricity and irrigate agricultural land.

But in recent years, millions of metric cubes have been dumped into sewage, with experts saying industrial waste and agricultural runoff that includes pesticides and fertilizers.

Since 2018, fishing has been banned there, but fish from the lake have been found in some markets.

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