Monday, March 15, 2010

A compelling documentary: Caring for the Red Sea

HEPCA - Caring for the Red Sea from NOCTILUCA on Vimeo.

Hurghada Environmental Protection Conservation Association (HEPCA) is a misleading name for an NGO working in the field of marine and land conservation.

Though based in Hurghada, this organization is involved in myriad environmental and protective projects stretching in and around the entire Red Sea.

Recently, HEPCA released a free online documentary highlighting the environmental challenges facing the Red Sea and the communities sustained by it, while also surveying the different projects HEPCA has initiated to face these challenges.

In many ways a PR campaign for the organization itself, the documentary also proves to be an eye-opener on just how vulnerable the Red Sea and its dependents are to enviro-political decisions.

Starting with a look at HEPCA’s establishment of the world’s largest mooring system in Egypt and neighboring countries, the 18 minute clip assesses issues raised by illegal fishing, waste management, tourism encroachment, and the need for using science to keep track of the effects of climate change on the Sea’s ecology.
Tantamount among these concerns is ensuring that sustainable choices are made within the tourism sector. In this regard, the documentary is bitingly critical of the Tourism Development Authority, saying: “Blinded by the tourist dollar, it’s marked the entire Red Sea coast for development.”
Similarly, while HEPCA has succeeded in convincing government heads to sign the Hurghada Declaration in June 2009, which bans net fishing in the entire Egyptian Red Sea, the reality reported is that this declaration is far from being implemented and enforced.
Encapsulating the crux of the problem, the narrator says: “Egypt now faces the choice between protecting its natural treasures for future income, or selling out to tourism for short-term gain.”
HEPCA’s Managing Director Amr Ali concludes with: “Caring for the Red Sea is not a luxury anymore. People have to move from the passive status that they are in, to a more active status.”
Ultimately, the documentary is calling for a shift from a phase of raising public awareness on environmental issues and the organizations involved, to a phase of concerted action.
“People have to take action and they have to take it now,” says Ali.


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