x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Fishermen blamed for polluted RAK beach

Once known for its pristine white sand and snorkelling, the 6km Al Rams seashore has become an eyesore and a danger to children.

Al Rams beach has become a graveyard for rays caught in fishermen's nets.
Al Rams beach has become a graveyard for rays caught in fishermen's nets.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // Residents of the town of Al Rams are demanding their beach, which has become strewn with dead fish and rubbish, be cleaned up. The 6km stretch of beach that was once known its pristine white sand and the emirate's best snorkelling has become an eyesore and a danger to children, they say.

They blame fisherman who haul their nets onto the shore to sort their catch. "Every day men are fishing here and it's not allowed to keep small fish, so they leave them here," said Yousef Rashid, 24, a police officer. "There is oil and too much rubbish. The municipality doesn't come here. I want change. They should clean it. A lot of people from outside Al Rams come here." The beach has also become a graveyard for rays caught in the fishermen's nets. On a recent visit, most were half buried above the tide line and a whipped tail could be seen poking through the sand every few metres. There were more than 30 dead rays and three dead cormorants in one 1km stretch of beach.

The beach is also covered with litter. Its white sand is dotted with discarded water bottles, glass, paint cans, juice boxes and nylon ropes. Despite its condition, the beach remains central to life in Al Rams. Families and young men crowd the beach to play football, race their quad bikes and run along the shoreline in the afternoons. "This beach was beautiful before," said Rashid Firdous, a Moroccan who has lived in Al Rams for eight years. "For me, this beach is the best there is in RAK but the problem is they don't care for it. Everyone from Rams comes here to play sports and drive.

"We asked the municipality to come and see it. They have to come here, they have to take responsibility." Most of the clean-up efforts are carried out by residents and local schools. "Sometimes people come and clean one or two times a year," said Ahmad Hamdan, 24, who works in Abu Dhabi. "In Rams the beach is very, very important. Our fathers, our uncles, they were fishermen before." The RAK land department, which confirmed plans to build a Corniche-like area in a nearby section of Al Rams with cafes and family areas, would not comment on the future of the popular sand spit.

There are plans for a nature reserve 3km away in Dhaya which would preserve three square metres of mangrove and wetlands used by migratory birds and nursing fish. The RAK Environmental Protection and Development Authority could not be reached for comment. Officials from the Public Works department, which is responsible for waste disposal, were also unavailable for comment. @Email:azacharias@thenational.ae