The delta in Egypt used to be a perfect location for fishing before it became the main destination for the country's sewage. The polluted waters threaten both the fisherman's wallet and his health.
Sheikh Sayadeen(head of fishermen), may his sould rest in peace, has previously gone to the parliament & they gave him false promises. The water was filled with a lot of fish and in only twenty four hours, it goes extinct. We can buy food. It's been five months that fishermen don't earn any money but what can they do; he's sad and his wife is crushed, he can do nothing. We had to send our children away to work either in farms or as doormen. In Tanta, there is plenty of fish but here in Monofeya we don't have any fish farms. We were the 'kings' of fish. In out water there was fish, snakes and different kinds of sea creatures but now everything is extinct.
Now you will see how we work in reality so you can see everything for yourself. Believe it or not, when someone used to come to buy fish from me, I used to get a box full of fish in only ten minutes. Look at the condition of our water now that used to be worshiped by our ancient father, the Pharaohs. When we were young, people used to swear saying "I swear on the pure king's soul" referring to the Nile. Now they can't say that anymore because it's no longer pure. Why would they even call it 'king'?
When an employer gets a deduction of one day from his salary as a punishment, they complain; while fishermen have been suffering for eleven years. The officials remove the Hyacinth and other Nile planets which costs 30 million pounds every year. Well, instead of spending money on that, why don't they clean the sewerage water? We don't care about being fishermen anymore; we just need a job to earn our living.
Now I'll show you exactly how we do our job. I'm a fisherman from Rosetta branch(of the Nile), from the village of 'Jezaii', Rashid governate. My name is Souba Abdel Nabi El Shimy.
Our problem started when the 'Sewerage project' or what is referred to 'The Death Project' started. It started on 1984 and at first it didn't have such a bad effect on us because the water used to have more shifts than now so it wasn't as fatal as it's been since 1986 till now. This project is mainly about the sewerage of Greater Cairo passing through Rahawi project to the Nile directly without any Sewage treatment which led to the discontinuity of the fishery. The only people who are benefiting from this are the people who own fish farms so their business would flourish and keep us working for them. We are not less human than they are, we should be equal.
Many fishermen are quitting on this job and trying to find something else like being doormen or else. Fishermen's children don't go to school. Fishermen are making their children find a job either in some fish farm or else; some of them even begs for money.
They never wonder why a new born is infected with the 'C' virus and Hepatic failure. They provide plasma treatment which costs millions and they are leaving this contaminated water like this. We don't want the medical treatment; we just want them to cleanse the water so we don't get diseases in the first place.
Check it yourself, there's no fish at all. We don't want a charity from no body, we just want the 'Sewerage project' to end; we're not asking for the impossible. A man is responsible for his wife and three children and is supposed to feed them. I only got two tiny fish today. Even if they were in gold & silver, it wouldn't be enough to feed us. We can do nothing but pray otherwise we would better not live on this earth. How can we afford this? Ought we fix the boat or buy food? This is job is no longer sufficient. If you ask other fishermen, they would tell worse than this; they just chose us to speak because we wouldn't offend anyone.
Here is one of the fishermen. He works as a day laborer for people so I he can feed my children. He doesn't even have an undershirt to wear as you can see. This network is the cleanest it could be like this; usually it is filled with worms.
My three children suffer from bilharzias because of this infected water. Most children here are infected with this disease. My two nephews have it. They also have 'C' virus. A month ago, you couldn't support standing anywhere near the water because of intensity of the sewerage; it was also filled with worms. Now it's much cleaner, there are no worms like before. We even can't invite you to eat because we don't have bread. Thank God for everything though.
As you can see, all boats are empty.
My name is Hussein Eissa El Shakhs, a fisherman from Rosetta branch and Sheikh Sayadeen (the head of fishermen). We've had this problem for 40 years. In 70's & 80's, though, it was not as bad as it has been starting the 90's. It reached its peak since 1990. It's been 22 years that we've been living like 'homeless', literally. The Nile extends 120 km in Monofeya governate including more than 150,000 fishermen. This job is inherited through families.