Pollution kills fish in Egyptian lake

Men stand next to their boats as the sun sets, Pollution kills fish in Egyptian lake
Fishermen stand next to their boats along the shore at Lake Qarun, Egypt, August 25, 2022, credit: Reuters/Fatma Fahmy

Pollution from agricultural, industrial and domestic waste has ruined Qarun Lake in Egypt, killing all the fish and shrimp the lake was once full off. “This lake used to be fine, but after the sewage drain was dumped in it, the fish started to die,” fisherman Ramadan Abdel Sattar Awad said.

“Only the agricultural drainage used to be dumped in the lake, now agricultural, industrial and sewage drain is dumped into the water,” fisherman Hussein Abdel Nasser said.

“Around five or six years ago, the nature of the water has changed for the farmed fish and the lake fish. There is not even one percent nutrients for the fish in the water now,” he added.

Egypt’s land along the Nile river is farmed intensively, and agricultural waste has damaged water quality in Qarun Lake, a problem first documented in a 2017 government study that also noted increased salinity due to the drought. A 2020 study showed higher-than-normal contamination with metals including copper, zinc, cadmium and lead.

“Qarun lake is a closed lake. Closed lakes get heated quickly and get affected quickly, and when there’s infection or diseases they spread more, and it’s more affected by climate change because it doesn’t get refreshed,” Magdy Allam, an environmental expert at Egypt’s Climate Information Center, said. “The issue of climate change is a separate problem in addition to that of pollutants.”

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