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The Libyan coast offers a wide variety of local environments which may or may not be conducive to specific methods of aquatic animal culture. A number of possibilities have been noted in earlier reviews and project proposal submissions (UNIMAC 1975; Aquaservice 1978; IAC 1981; Gashout 1983; Ghanim 1984; Gashout et al. 1987; Hadoud et al. 1989; Al Nasih 1990; Brother & Brother 1991; Gashout 1991; GADA 1995). For present descriptive purposes the coastline has been divided into five zones, as demarcated in the overview shown as Map 1 (Annex 1). The zones are shown at a larger scale in Maps 2 – 4. Map 2 combines the two westernmost zones of Zuwara and Tripoli. Map 3 shows the Gulf of Sirte zone. The two easternmost zones of Jebel Akhdar and Tubruk arc combined as Map 4.

The following sections look at each of these zones in terms of features of special note and localities which are of potential interest or relevance for aquaculture development. A summary of site characteristics and development recommendations is presented in Table 2, whilst Table 3 provides a more specific breakdown of site suitability vis-a-vis each of the types of aquafarming intervention noted in the previous section. Much of the information available on coastal sites was collected in the course of the 1993 LIBFISH Frame Survey exercise (Reynolds et al. 1994).

5.1 Tunisian Border to Sabratah

The coastal zone from Abu Kamash to Sabratah (Map 2, Annex 1) is mainly composed of beaches with dunes, sabkhat (salt marshes), and sandy plains. Nearshore areas are shallow and host extensive beds of Posidinia grass.

5.1.1 Abu Kamash area/Farwa Lagoon


Abu Kamash Sabkha extends over a wide area straddling the border with Tunisia. A portion of the sabkha close to Farwa Lagoon is presently exploited by a saltworks which supplies the Abu Kamash chemical plant on the coast. The sabkha hosts a natural population of Artemia brine shrimp (Huni 1986), which could be of importance for research and development work related to live feed production.

Farwa Lagoon is one of the most studied marine sites in Libya (see, for example: MRC 1982; Gerges and Durgham 1983; Ghannudi and Daawad 1986; Magsoudi et al. 1989; Gashout and Ezabi 1990). Farwa covers an area of around 12 km × 3 km area located near the Tunisian border (Map 5, Annex 1). There is a wide opening with the sea (about 3.5 km during high tide) on the western side. A small channel formally existed on the eastern end of the lagoon cutting through the spit of land known as ‘Farwa Island’, but this was reportedly blocked off by the military in 1986. A chemical plant for the manufacture of salts, bleaching agents, PVC, and other petroleum hyrdrocarbon-based products was constructed just to the east of Farwa Island in the early 1980s. Plant wastes are discharged after treatment into the sea. Although no serious cases of toxic dumping have actually been documented, the plant must always be regarded as a potential pollution point.7

It was noticed as of March 1995 that dredging work had commenced on a new eastern channel to run right across Farwa Island, at a point equidistant from the western opening and the easternmost end of the lagoon. This appears to be a substantial project, but with its improper siting it is highly doubtful whether any improvement in water quality will be induced within the eastern half of the lagoon. In any event, the new channel will most likely be filled up with sand during the first major storm that blows up after its completion. Even the old channel with its better location had to be dredged out on a regular basis (Serbetis 1952).

An important feature of Farwa Lagoon is its extreme shallowness. The amplitude of the tide is about 0,40m, so that a large area of the lagoon is uncovered during low water periods. Maximum depth, occurring in the central part, is only 2.5m. Artisanal fishing boats sometimes have difficulty in and out from Abu Kamash pier because of the shallow water.

Red tides are known on occasion during warm periods, when water temperature may reach 30°C, suggesting that the carrying capacity of this lagoon is very limited. Dissolved oxygen is generally near or over saturation during day time due to photosynthetic activity of Posidonia grass, but tends to drop to very low levels at night and thus might prove to be a limiting factor for fish inhabiting the lagoon on a permanent basis. It would not be a problem at so long as fish use the site as a temporary feeding ground, entering the lagoon during the day and swimming back to the sea when the oxygen level is too low. Egress to the sea is equally important during periods of extreme temperature and/or salinity. Experimental suspended mussel culture conducted in 1988 apparently failed due to extreme conditions of salinity and temperature. A second attempt is said to be presently underway.

The southern bank of Farwa is densely populated, and polluted water from dwellings is dumped directly into the lagoon. This constitutes an additional hazard for marine life.

Rehabilitation and production enhancement of Farwa could perhaps be managed through dredging of a channel from the existing westward opening to the area of the former opening to the east, around the chemical factory. Here an eastward opening could be re-established to the sea and protected with rockwork. Such a project would represent a substantial work of engineering but could prevent future outbreaks of red tides and foster proper conditions for permanent life of fishes inside the lagoon.

It is possible that under improved conditions the level of fisheries exploitation within the lagoon could be increased somewhat, perhaps even through the construction of ‘drinas’ (traps, fish weirs) at the openings to the sea. At the same time, it must be recognised that any investment in capture installations or production enhancement facilities or, for that manner, any kind of aquafarming at Farwa would probably not repay itself (cf. Agius 1995). Installation of traps or weirs under conditions of ideal management can permit production levels of anywhere from 50 to 100 kg of fish per ha of permanent water/year. The total area of Farwa is about 3100 ha, of which only half is permanently with water. On optimistic projections therefore the total production of fish could be around: 1550 ha × 50 to 100 kg = 77 to 155 tons/year.


5.1.2 Zuwara area


Zuwara Harbour is a large modem facility capable of serving both artisanal and industrial fishing craft. Fisheries services facilities include a shipyard, boatlift, ice plant, cold store, and cannery. The harbour area and nearby waters are subject to pollution from oil spills, urban sewage, and industrial effluent. Zuwara has the facilities to serve as a base for cage culture but the offshore area is not really suitable for such operations because:

Open areas and agricultural land exist to the east and west of Zuwara, and pond and raceway aquafarming on either a small-scale or large-scale model could be considered for suitable sites - i.e. those that are fairly level and have sandy or sandy-clay soils.

Zuwara Sabkha is a continuation of the Abu Kamash salt marsh plain and extends to the east and west of the coastline fronting Zuwara town. It is a very large and shallow salt pan which dries quickly in summer, and is used by local residents and fishers as a source of solar salt for domestic use and as a preservative for bait. A permanent saltworks exists just to the east of town along the main coastal highway, close to the branching road to the harbour.

Sections the sabkha to the east of Zuwara town are used for waste and old vehicle disposal.

Natural occurrence of brine shrimp is reported, and it has been suggested that around 100 ha of Zuwara sabkha would be suitable for Artemia production (Gashout 1991).


5.2 Sabratah to Misratah

The stretch of coastal plain running from Sabratah to Misratah is the most densely populated area in Libya (Map 2, Annex 1). It has relatively high winter season rainfall and well developed agriculture. The land along the shore alternates between low rocky stretches, often exploited as limestone quarries, rocky hills and cliffs, and sandy beaches. Shoreline reaches between Sabratah and Tajura generally can be regarded as unsuitable insofar as aquafarming is concerned. Numerous places east of Tajura appear at first glance to be appropriate as sites for pond and raceway culture installations, and there are several wadis with estuarine lagoons or ponds that some observers have suggested as possible locations for hatchery or production activities. One such site, at Ain Kaam, close to Khums, has already been established as a GADA/APC facility, and now hosts some cage culture of tilapia and mullet as well as a hatchery for shrimp.

5.2.1 Sabratah to Janzour coast


This section of coastline has been highly damaged due to continuous quarrying. Extensive areas along the littoral have been excavated for building blocks, leaving large deep pits reaching down to groundwater level. Quarrying produces a great deal of dust which is transported by wind or rain water to the sea, where it then silts over and kills Posidonia grass. Many of the old quarries are now used as garbage dumps for all manner of material. They thus represent potential sites of groundwater contamination and public health hazards.

A few years ago plans were made to convert some of the disused quarries close to Marsa Dila (near Zawia) into growout ponds for sea bass, sea bream, and tilapia. A hatchery unit was to be established to supply seed stock to individual ponds, and the whole project was seen as a core around which other intensive aquafarming activities in different parts of the country could be developed (UNDP 1990). Apart from some preliminary fencing work at one of the quarries, nothing of any consequence has come of these plans. This delay in project implementation may prove salutary, however, since it provides a chance for a thoroughgoing review of the whole approach. There are apparent problems of seawater supply, drainage, dust and siltation, temperature extremes in the hot season, waste disposal, and pollution that are or a potentially serious nature, and these should be investigated as part of a feasibility assessment or re-assessment exercise.

Another pollution hazard point is the Zawia oil refinery and terminal. Local fishers complain of occasional oil slicks on the adjacent waters.


5.2.2 Janzour to Tajura (Tripoli area)


Over one million people live along the coast in the greater Tripoli area that stretches between Janzour and Tajura. Pollution and marine ecosystem degradation are severe. Several major sewers dump untreated wastes into the sea. Extensive disposal of industrial effluents, solid wastes, domestic garbage, and landfill also occurs throughout this stretch of coast. Construction of houses and commercial property does not seem to be in accordance with any coherent master plan. Uncontrolled building development has resulted in the disappearance of extensive tracts of prime agricultural land, especially around the city's periphery, and groundwater availability and quality problems are becoming increasingly serious. Open beachfront areas have for the most part disappeared or are no longer available as clean, odour-free, public access spaces. The major harbour of Bab El Bahar hosts commercial shipping, a naval facility, and a fishing port, and is heavily polluted with sewage, oil residues, and garbage.

The presence of good harbour facilities at Sidi Blal (near Janzour), Bab El Bahar (main Tripoli harbour), and Enadi El Bahri (just west of Bab El Bahar) might suggest the possibility of offshore cage operations using these places as shore servicing bases. Weighing overwhelmingly against this suggestion however are the problems of heavily used shipping lanes converging on the main harbour, extreme pollution hazards, and the fact that most of the national trawl fishery operates throughout the grounds lying between Misratah and the Tunisian border.

The premises and compound of the MBRC are located on the seafront at Tajura, well to the east of Tripoli and away from the worst of the inshore urban pollution areas. The Centre has marine aquaria installations and with some modification pilot aquaculture facilities could easily be established. Major civil works and plant rehabilitation would first have to be carried out, and in particular an adequate seawater supply system would have to be provided for (Vallet 1994a). Water quality should be adequate so long as the intake for such a system would be located at a spot deep enough (>10m) and far enough from the shore (>300m) to avoid turbidity problems and temperature fluctuations, and also to ensure that no supplies arc drawn from just off the beach, where localised pollution has been noticed.

A further aquaculture-related activity that might be considered for the Tajura area is the rehabilitation of the old Imeatiga salt works which were closed down in 1981. A technical committee of the Tajura Industrial Research Centre has recently conducted a feasibility study for this project (IRC 1994), and it could be useful to further investigate the suggestion that an integrated brine shrimp-salt production facility be established.


5.2.3 Garabulli area

Along the stretch of coastline from just east of Garabulli to Misratah a new service road has been constructed as part of the pipeline work for the Great Manmade River Project. The road runs roughly parallel to the coast and has opened up access to places that were previously could not be reached by car. One effect of this is that more beach and shore areas including wadi mouths and fragile estaurine lagoon settings are now being used as weekend recreation sites.


Water flows down Wadi El Massid during times of winter rains only. A shallow pond (<lm) at the mouth of the wadi is kept filled by underground springs. During times of peak rainwater runoff in the wadi considerable quantities of silt and debris get washed out into the sea. The wadi mouth is fronted by a flat sandy beach which is a popular site for weekend visitors from Tripoli. It is quite exposed and sea conditions can be rough in winter. Construction of some tourist bungalows close to the west side of the wadi mouth was started by a commercial firm in 1994, but work appears to have been suspended for some time and the status of the development is not clear. There are recent reports that a sewage outfall from the nearby settlement of Garabulli has been constructed, and is now draining into the wadi.

The lower end of Wadi Turghlat is fed by springs and contains a permanent pool about 300m long by about half a metre deep. Grey mullet fingerlings and European eel enter the lagoon during winter when a channel is breached to the sea. There is a sandy beach fronting the wadi mouth which is very open and exposed to the weather. The wadi corridor is surrounded by dense stands of euculyptus trees. Serious damage occurred to sections of this forest in a recent fire.

Wadi Bsis and, just to the east, Wadi Qirim (Gereem), run roughly in parallel, entering the sea about 1.5 km apart. In both cases a small estuarine pond is formed behind a sandbar blocking the channel where the wadi reaches the beach. Direct links to the sea are opened only during times of high water flows. The coast in this area is open and exposed, and during winter sea conditions can become quite heavy. Stands of date palms are found in the floodplains of both wadis, and migratory waterfowl frequent the estuarine ponds in the winter. Qirim in particular is a popular weekend spot in summer months with visitors from Tripoli and Khums. Just to the east of Qirim lies a long sandy beach that is very good for swimming. Kiosks for coffee and food operate during the summer at Wadi Bsis, and a new tourist bungalow development is reported to be under construction about 500 m back from the shore.


5.2.4 Khums


The waters offshore of Khums could be considered for cage culture systems, bearing in mind that some localised pollution risks exist in the form of a fueling jetty for the seawater desalinating plant about five kilometres east of town, cannery effluents, and urban sewage.

The 35m isobath lies within 5 nautical miles offshore, or about half an hour away by service boat steaming at 10 knots. Cage locations would presumably be set at points well away from the Khums harbour approaches to avoid complications with shipping traffic.

The old fishing harbour in the town of Khums is crowded and does not offer much in the way of facilities to serve as a base for offshore aquafarming operations. However there is an extensive new harbour installation a few kilometres to the west of the town which could easily be used for this purpose.


5.2.5 Ain Kaam


The Ain Kaam Farm was established in 1990 as a shrimp hatchery and growout facility. Tilapia culture was added in 1993 with the acquisition of stock imported from Egypt. There are plans to work eventually with sea bass, sea bream, and amberjack as well, and broodstock of all these species has recently been delivered for this purpose. The design and construction of the farm were executed by a Chinese consulting firm, which also provided resident advisors to assist in startup operations. The farm encompasses about 3 hectares on the eastern bank of the estuarine lagoon of Wadi Kaam. Substantial investment has obviously been made in infrastructure. General facilities include an office, stores, staff housing, electricity supply, and a standby generator. Facilities for the technical work include pumping and distribution systems for both brackish water from the wadi and seawater from the shoreline, water filtering equipment, a hatchery installation, live feed production unit, rearing and broodstock tanks, an aquarium room, a live fish transport tank, and some 20 cages in the wadi channel for mullet and red tilapia culture. In general Ain Kaam is reasonably well equipped for its intended purpose, though some quite substantial improvements and/or modernisation would be desirable in the form of proper seawater intakes, the installation of a borehole supply, and electrical work (Agius 1995). Perhaps even more than plant and equipment upgrading, what is needed to achieve more effective operations at Ain Kaam is a stronger management and maintenance programme (Vallet 1994c, 1995). During the summer of 1994, for example, the outbreak of disease amongst shrimp broodstock at Ain Kaam was directly related to poor keeping and handling practices (Fituri and Vallet 1994).


A number of major items require immediate attention at Ain Kaam Farm if operations are to be made more effective. These include the following:

Other measures that should be attended to include:

5.2.6 Zlitan


Like Khums, Zlitan has a modern harbour facility which could serve as a base of operations for offshore cage culture activities. Waters of sufficient depth lie within a convenient operating range. A problem with Zlitan harbour however is the narrow and shallow entrance that has to be negotiated with care to avoid rocky reefs. Passage is sometimes difficult in heavy sea conditions.


5.3 Misratah to Benghazi: Gulf of Sirt

The stretch of coastline around the Gulf of Sirt is flat and arid, characterised by sandy beaches, extensive sabkha areas, and scrub land (Map 3, Annex 1). Some places between Ras Lanuf and Azzuaytina lie below sea level. Numerous sea turtle nesting sites have been identified along the beaches of the Gulf, making it an important conservation area not only nationally but for the entire Mediterranean basin. At the same time serious pollution hazards exist at several points due to oil refinery and/or oil terminal installations.

Except for the area around Misratah, offshore cage aquafarming would not be a viable option within the Gulf because the operating range to waters beyond the 35m isobath is too great, generally amounting to some 10–15 n.m., or more than one hour's steaming time.

5.3.1 Misratah


Mina Gasr Ahmed (Misratah) is another modem harbour installation catering to medium sized fishing craft. It could serve as an appropriate servicing base for offshore cage aquafarming units, and waters of sufficient depth are to be found within one-half hour sailing times from the port. Possible pollution risk points include the nearby steel factory, power plant, and city sewage outfalls.


5.3.2 El Hisha Reserve


The New Hisha Project (AOAD 1992) involves a large reserve arc that extends across an area of some 160,000 km2. It encompasses virtually all the land that lies between the main coastal road from the point where it runs close to Misratah in the north to where it again touches the coast near Buerat El Hassun in the south. The Project is ambitious in scope, aiming at development of the whole Hisha Reserve by partitioning it into sections for carrying out various activities in livestock production, afforestation and soil protection, and wildlife conservation. The fact that the reserve status of the area also covers the coastal strip has obvious implications for fisheries and aquaculture interests. For one thing, this might facilitate the protection of marine turtle nesting sites that are known to exist along El Hisha beaches, just as they do along other parts of the Gulf of Sirt coast. Furthermore, it is possible that restricted fishing zones or marine protection areas could be considered for establishment within the littoral and nearshore waters in association with the terrestrial reserve land. Most of all, from the point of view of aquafarming, there are significant salt marsh areas and freshwater spring sites located within the Project area, and interest has been expressed in the possibilities of developing culture facilities in some way that takes advantage of this fact.

Expanses of sabkha land in the Hisha Reserve are known by a various local names, and some confusion arises between these and the place labels given on official maps. For present purposes the main sabkha area lying in the northern part of the reserve is taken as ‘Tawarghah Sabkha’ and the main one to the south as ‘El Hisha Sabkha.’ Along the middle section of the Reserve's coast, the approximately 50 km long corridor (~500m in width) of sabkha land that lies between ridges of higher ground to the east of the main sabkhat and the strip of shore dunes is taken as ‘Smeda’ or ‘Umm El Izam’ (see sketches, Maps 6 and 7, Annex 1).

At a site about 50 km south of Mina Qasr Ahmed (Misratah) works have already commenced on a diking system that is intended to divide Smeda Sabkha into sections, presumably to serve as production units. The dykes run back perpendicularly from the beach dunes to the higher ground to the west, behind which lie the main sabkha expanses of Tawarghah and Hisha. Whilst it is not known on the basis of information available what the exact purpose of this project is supposed to be, the type of production planned, its scope, etc., a number of serious technical concerns should be borne in mind.

The aquatic environment formed by flooding a dyked section of sabkha would generally not be very compatible for commercially cultured fish, even euryhalines (fish capable of adapting to a wide range of salinity). Any type of large pond development in such a setting requires a permanent supply of seawater to keep salinity levels within tolerable limits. Evaporation of standing water along the Mediterranean coast is high, and it can be estimated that it would be necessary to pump something on the order of 100m3 of per hectare of pond every day to maintain acceptable salinity levels for fish. Provided that salinity is kept at less than 42 ppt, large ponds could conceivably be used for extensive farming of mullet, a fish that can withstand fairly extreme conditions. The stocking rate should be one to two fingerlings/m2, or 10 – 20,000/ha. Mullet fry, though common along the Mediterranean coast especially during springtime, are extremely difficult to collect in quantities sufficient for culture purposes. Furthermore, collecting fry from the sea or lagoons is unreliable since species would tend to be mixed and not all of them can be farmed.8 Extensive culture of mullet requires the use of fertilisers and artificial feed. Under a proper management regime production can perhaps reach levels of 2 tonnes/ha/yr. Harvests would be less than 400 kg/ha/yr if fertiliser and feed were not used.

Whilst the above technical constraints and poor production prospects pose major if not insurmountable obstacles to the successful outcome of work currently underway at Smeda, other more feasible approaches might be considered for El Hisha region sites. Artemia have been observed in by both Project LIBFISH and MBRC teams during field trips to the Smeda and Tawarghah sabkhat. Experiments for increasing the natural production of these brine shrimp could be conducted at selected artificial and/or natural ponds. The process would involve application of NPK agricultural fertiliser at a given rate (e.g., 20 kg/ha) to produce ‘green water,’ and then to monitor the effects on Artemia populations.

On higher terrain around the sabkha plains, it might be possible to establish large-scale aqua farms. Two principal conditions for such an activity are drainable ponds and a seawater throughflow sufficient to keep salinity lower than 40 g/1. The seawater requirements would obviously have to be met through the operation of very large pumping stations. Some excess water could perhaps be drained into lower parts of the sabkha plains to facilitate Artemia production.

A theoretically possible alternative technique to control salinity levels in sabkha area aquaculture ponds would be to use freshwater supplies. The Hisha Reserve contains groundwater springs, such as those at the Tawarghah settlement which are used for the Tawarghah Agrarian Reform Project (an irrigation scheme) as well as to supply the city of Misratah. These are said to be the largest springs in Libya, but even so it is questionable whether they could provide for the prodigious quantities of freshwater that would be required in sabkha ponds. Moreover, the pumping and piping complex needed for such operations would be a hugely expensive proposition. In any event, it is highly doubtful whether the diversion of groundwater to dilute hyperhaline sabkha ponds contitutes the most rational use of such a precious resource. If any use is to be made of Tawarghah spring water for aquafarming purposes, it would make far better sense in the context of project situated right at or close to the source. The possibility of this latter course of action was suggested by IAC (1981), and GADA has included Tawarghah springs on a list of sites recently designated for aquafarming feasibility study. Any development action would have to be designed with the needs of irrigation and urban use interests in mind. The current status of bilharzia control measures would also need to be ascertained. Past practice has been to apply poisons to kill off snails which serve as intermediate hosts for the parasite. Such poisons could pose a hazard for fish culture activities.


5.3.3 Buerat El Hassun to Benghazi


The shoreline stretching from the southern boundary of El Hisha Reserve through Sirt and around the bight of Brega returning north again to Benghazi is characterised by sandy beaches backed by dunes and scrubland, arid plains, and sabkhat. Numerous marine turtle nesting sites have been confirmed through field survey, as have several major pollution risk points (Map 3, Annex 1). Agricultural potential along the coastal strip is minimal to marginal. Large-or small-scale pond and raceway aquafarming systems are in principle possible at any site where drainage and soil conditions are suitable, but circumstances do not favour development of cage culture whether of the sheltered or offshore type.

Major sabkhat areas include those of Sultan, Besher, Kweim, Shwerab, and Karkora. The sabkha plains typically are very shallow depressions that lie back from the shoreline behind a barrier of sand dunes. Incursions of seawater occur only during winter months, and large expanses of ground dry out during the summer, All the sabkhat, and particularly those that stay flooded over long periods with water from the sea or brackish springs, provide important refuge areas for migratory waterfowl. It has been observed that native fish populations of Goby spp. provide food for passage migrants in some localities of the Sultan and Besher saltmarshes. Artemia have been recorded only at Kweim. Other places may host natural populations but systematic fieldwork is necessary to establish this fact. The extent of human environmental impact varies from negligible to extreme. Salt extraction takes place at Karkora, road and dyke works have extensively disrupted the landscape along the shore west of Sirt, and at Brega parts of the Besher sabkha have been turned into a massive dump for domestic garbage, construction refuse, and industrial wastes.


5.4 Benghazi to Bumba: Jebal Akhdar

This section of coastline generally comprises a narrow strip lying between the sea and the escarpments of the Green Mountains (Map 4, Annex 1). The coastal plain broadens out in the west, towards Benghazi, and also to some extent in the east, towards Tubruk. Farmland and pastures are found in the flatter stretches, but much of the area is hilly and rugged, with a steeply shelving shoreline. In many places inlets and bays lead into the mouths of deep wadis or canyons that cut back into and drain the hinterland. Shallow estuarine lagoons or ponds of brackish water are sometimes found at the lower end of these wadis, just where they give on to the sea. The lagoons are generally blocked off from the beach by a sandbar that stretches across the wadi mouth, except when such barriers are breached during times of severe storms or flooding down the watercourse.

5.4.1 Benghazi


Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, is a major port and industrial centre. In the same fashion as for the greater Tripoli area, though to a somewhat lesser extent, pollution of Benghazi's nearshore waters is a problem since industrial effluents, dumping and spilling associated with marine traffic, and urban sewage disposal are not effectively controlled.

Harbour facilities are well developed and as such a servicing base for offshore cage operations could easily be provided for. However, here as elsewhere in the Gulf of Sirt, waters of sufficient depth lie quite a long distance out from the coast, meaning that it would be very difficult to manage such installations.

‘Juliana Lake’ is a large shallow backwater of the old harbour basin that serves as a kind of scenic urban lagoon and also as a recreational fishing and boating site for city residents. Suggestions have been made in the past that the lake be stocked with suitable species for sports fishing (IAC 1981). It is not at all an appropriate site for commercial aquaculture production purposes.


5.4.2 Abou Dzira lake complex


A complex of some half-dozen spring-fed freshwater lakes is located to the southeast of Benghazi city, beginning about 10 km along the main road leading to Beida. They are basically similar in terms of water quality, physiographic conditions, and flora and fauna communities, though they vary substantially in size and depth. The largest of the lakes is Abou Dzira, with an area of about 36 ha and an estimated depth of 25m at its deepest point (IAC 1981). It is known principally as a family recreation site featuring an island restaurant and various tourist amenities. The lake and its fringes serve as an important refuge site for waterfowl and other avifauna, particularly during winter months when many migratory birds arrive as visitors. Abou Dzira reportedly was planted with carp in 1984, and these fish seem to have thrived. Within the last year or so GADA started trials with tilapia cage culture. There are now two cages in place, with plans to increase the number of units in the near future. Abou Dzira is being run by GADA on experimental lines only. Fish are being raised for breeding purposes and not for commercial harvest. It is understood that serious bacterial and fungal diseases have occurred amongst both the free-range and cultured fish population of Abou Dzira. These outbreaks are suspected to be linked to the presence of sewage, rubbish, and oil contamination of lake waters. Algal blooms arc also reported to occur from time to time, indicating that nutrient overload is a problem.

Um El-Magarin lake lies a few kilometres southeast of Abou Dzira and covers an area of some 20 ha. Four smaller lakes ranging from around one to a few hectares in extent are also found in the vicinity. Um El-Magarin and the other nearby lakes are used by local inhabitants primarily for watering of stock and birdhunting. Like Abou Dzira, all of them provide important habitat for resident and passage wildfowl.


5.4.3 Ain Ziana


Ain Ziana Lagoon is a brackish body of water that lies about 15 km east of Benghazi city centre. Its open water surface covers about 50 ha, and there are large adjoining marsh areas on the southeastern and northwestern sides that total several hundred hectares in extent (Map 8, Annex 1). Numerous underground springs charge the lagoon with freshwater, but there are also saltwater incursions from the sea. A channel leading out of the lagoon previously allowed for a greater ebb and flow of waters until a sluice gate was constructed at its mouth in 1993. This installation should allow for closer control over the lagoon water and salinity levels.

The open water area of Ain Ziana hosts a small mullet, eel, and bream fishery. Several studies over the past twenty years or so have recommended the lagoon area as a site for aquafarming activities, and GADA/APC has now signed a contract with a Swedish concern to develop a major hatchery and grow-out complex on the western side of the outflow channel, close to the Benghazi power plant. It is understood that waste cooling water from the plant will be available for circulation through the hatchery tanks and grow-out ponds when needed. The capability of blending supplies of groundwater, ambient seawater, and warm used plant cooling water would greatly facilitate the task of maintaining constant temperatures throughout the year, but it should be remembered that designing unnecessary complexity into water circulation systems will only be likely to cause operational problems later on.

Construction has already started on this ambitious multimillion dollar project, and it should largely be completed by mid-1996. Planned annual output for the hatchery is two million fingerlings, and a yearly production of 400 t of sea bass, sea bream, and shrimp is envisaged for the commercial ponds. The hatchery will function as a completely integrated production facility in which algae, Artemia and Rotifer cultivation units will provide for the live feed requirements of the fish nursery units. Fingerling production that is surplus to the needs of the grow-out pond complex will be available to other aquaculture stations and projects throughout the country.

Aside from offering ideal conditons for hatchery and large-scale aquafarming enterprise, Ain Ziana and its adjacent marshlands fulfill other crucial roles as well. The lagoon itself serves as an important recreation site for residents of nearby Benghazi, who come for swimming, sports fishing, boating, and picnics. The lagoon-marsh complex in general hosts many species of indigenous birds and attracts multitudes of migratory waterfowl. It has been noted by ornithologists as ‘… one of the most interesting Libyan wetland areas, with a variety of habitats, and … clearly in need of some form of protection’ (Meininger et al. 1994).

Unfortunately this unique environment is also under threat from pressures of urbanisation and irresponsible waste disposal. Sewage, rubbish, wrecked vehicles, and building construction refuse are dumped at various sites around the marsh and sabkha extending towards Benghazi. Building and residential development, if left uncontrolled, will further diminish the wetland areas.


5.4.4 El Kouf National Park


El Kouf National Park extends from the steep flanks of the Jebel Akdhar northwest of Beida down to the coastal strip in the general area of El Hania. Some 20 km of shoreline are included within the park area, which amounts in total to 32,000 km2 (ACSAD 1984; UNEP 1992). As far as is known this is the only piece of coast within the country that has national park status. Stretches of sandy beach alternate with rocky headlands and low cliffs, and some minor freshwater wetland areas lie back from the coast at various points. These marsh and pond areas are fed by spring upwellings at the base of the Jebel Akdhar escarpment, and provide an ideal habitat for both resident and migrant birdlife. Marine turtle nesting sites have been observed along the beaches. The narrow coastal plain is utilised as agricultural and grazing land where the terrain permits. All of El Kouf Park, including both the upper plateau and valley area and the coastal strip, has been subjected to severe population pressure associated with both farming and grazing as well as recreational activities (hunting, tourist and day-trip visit use).


5.4.5 Susah and Darnah harbours


Susah, the ancient commercial harbour of Shahat, provides a present-day anchorage and shelter for a fleet of thirty or so small artisanal fishing craft. Although the harbour can be used by medium-sized gillnetters, it is not deep enough to accomodate trawlers and it lacks adequate protection from heavy seas during stormy periods. Access in and out of the harbour is reported to be difficult during rough weather.

Darnah offers modern harbour facilities with good protection along an otherwise very exposed coast. It caters primarily to commercial shipping traffic and offers only limited space for fishing craft.

Possible anchoring points for offshore cages lie within convenient operating ranges of both Darnah and Susah, since waters of greater than 35m depth are found very close to the shore along this stretch of coast.


5.4.6 Wadi El Khalij (Khapta) and Wadi El Hamassah


Both of these wadis are of superb scenic and wetland habitat value, though as far as is known they are not protected in any way as reserves or wildlife refuges. Khalij is a popular weekend spot used by families from nearby Darnah for swimming, picnics, and recreational fishing. Its beachfront also serves as a landing site for artisanal fishing craft during summer. The wadi is easily accessible by a road that leads across the coastal plateau from the west to a vantage point high above its mouth, before descending very steeply down to the bed of the ravine itself From above there are spectacular views of the sea, the rugged cliffs of the shoreline, and the wadi entrance bay. An estuarine lagoon extends back about a kilometre from the sandbar barrier at the wadi mouth. These brackish waters are fairly shallow (1–2m), and contain mullet and eel. A fringing band of reeds and bushes provides important habitat and shelter for a large variety of local birds and seasonal migrants. The last few hundred metres before the beach area is relatively flat and open. Here on the seaward end a huge sand dune is banked against the western wadi wall. During visits in late 1993 and again in mid-1995 the dune was in the process of being excavated and trucked away by a building materials company. This operation has a massive destructive impact on the natural environment, since it involves the use of large dump trucks and front-end loaders, and generates a good deal of litter and pollution within and alongside the lagoon waters. A number of empty motor oil tins were seen floating in the lagoon in December 1993,

Wadi El Hamassah lies further east along the coast. It is another very deeply cut gorge, though it appears to be a little wider across than Khalij and is fronted by a much deeper and more protected entrance bay. Its estuarine lagoon also runs a little greater distance back up the wadi channel in comparison with that of Khalij. As with the latter, the Hamassah lagoon waters and fringing vegetation contribute to a very scenic setting and offer crucial wetland habitat for a variety of local and migrant birds. The El Hamassah bay entrance is dominated by impressive headlands and cliffs which afford good weather shelter from the north and east. The bay and estaurine lagoon are accessible from the eastern side via a tarmac road leading in from the Darnah-Tobruk highway. Although there is no permanent landing site artisanal fishers use the wadi mouth in all seasons as a safe haven and as a craft servicing point. Local sheep herders use the site as a summer camp, and it also provides a weekend recreation spot for area residents and people from Darnah, who come for swimming and picnics. The number of recreational visitors is however far less than is the case at Khalij. Although the sheep herding activities have a certain impact, and some tarball pollution is apparent on the beachfront, El Hamassah has suffered relatively little environmental damage thus far. This fortunate state of affairs owes largely to that it is fairly remote from any major urban centre.

Neither El Khalij nor El Hamassah offer any realistic prospects for successful aquafarming operations. These sites in any event have far greater value as nature reserves, and warrant protection as such.


5.4.7 Ras Ettin Marsh - Wadi Abou El Agig


Ras Ettin is approached by a road leading north from the main Darnah-Tobruk highway from the town of Umm ar Rzam. It is located on a rocky point of land just where the coast curves southeastwards into the Gulf of Bumba. A sandy beach runs south of this point, fronted by a reef barrier that provides some shelter for artisanal fishing boats. A cluster of fisher dwellings and temporary shelters is found on the higher ground behind the point, along with a larger ex-military building that used to serve as a beach club. There is an expanse of marshy area that lies back of the beach, and some observers have suggested that it might offer possibilities for aquafarming activities. On the basis of present knowledge however this does not seem to be the case. Water levels are very shallow and are subject to considerable seasonal variation. Furthermore, the anchorage at the landing is not at all well protected from heavy weather from the east or southeast, so it would not serve as a suitable service base for any offshore cage operations.

Wadi Abou El Agig lies just northwest of Ras Ettin and is reached from the latter site via 3.5 km of rough track. It is a shallow wadi mouth bay sheltered from the east but exposed to the north. The beach is a seasonal landing site for artisanal fishers and offers no amenities other than a well located back up the wadi bed, and one temporary fishers' shelter used as occasional accommodation.


5.5 Bumba to Egyptian Border

This easternmost stretch of the Libyan coastline is characterised by a mainly rocky shoreline and a broader coastal plain than that found in the Jebel Akhdar zone. Flatter expanses of sabkha and wetland environments fringe the shores of the Gulf of Bumba, including the area around the major lagoon of Ain El Ghazala (Map 4, Annex 1).

5.5.1 Khalij Bumba


This lagoon is extremely shallow, with depths generally less than two metres and less than one metre over the entrance bar (Map 9, Annex 1). It is therefore absolutely unsuitable for cage or pen culture. The construction drina would not be an economical proposition due to the small area involved (about 60 ha) and the absence of tide. Sea bass and bream fry have been collected from Kahlij Bumba for the Ain El Ghazala aquafarm, but in limited numbers.

There are large patches of seasonal marsh lie back from the shore and around the coastline towards At Timimi landing, but they are not suitable for pond construction for several reasons:

However, the possibility of establishing a service base for offshore farm operations in or around Khalij Bumba should be given serious study. It would appear to be one of the most appropriate sites for offshore farming along the entire coast.


5.5.2 Ain El Ghazala


Ain El Ghazala Lagoon is a roughly thumb-shaped indentation of the Gulf of Bomba that covers an area of some 180 ha, (Map 10, Annex 1). The lagoon is shallow, with an estimated average depth of 2m and a maximum depth of 4.2m. It is fed by freshwater springs from various points around the southern shore. Cymodocea spp. and Posidonia spp, cover much of the seabed, indicating an absence of pollution. Salinity levels are close to that of seawater, and there is a high level of dissolved oxygen.

Artisanal fishers work the waters inside and outside of the lagoon, from a landing site that lies just inside the entrance channel, which is very shallow (≈ lm). A near absence of tide limits water exchanges with the sea, which would tend to severely limit the lagoon's carrying capacity. It can be anticipated also that absence of tide would result in poor performance efficiencies for traps (drina) should any ever be installed at the opening.

Ain El Ghazala has been a focal site of aquafarming activity under the GADA/APC since 1989, when experimental floating cage culture was started. Limited trials in mussel culture were initiated in 1991 using seed stock imported from Italy. The bivalves were suspended from rafts inside tubular nets for the growout period, and the first trials appeared to be successful in the sense that the stock grew to a marketable size without any major problems being encountered. One point of concern that bears further study in future trial work is the question of water temperatures. During very hot summers the shallow lagoon waters may become too warm for European mussels.

At present there are some half-dozen small cages (5 × 5 × 3 m) in operation for the fattening of species of sea bass, sea bream, mullet, and eel. Fry stock is collected wild from points around the lagoon and also from Khalij Bumba. The number of cages in operation during any one production cycle depends on the quantity of fry available. The fish are raised on pelletted feed imported from Italy, though field mission observations indicate that the feeding regime is not always be strictly followed, and that conditions of feed storage are far from ideal. There are indications too that the stock of operating equipment (boats, rafts, etc.) is not being maintained in the best way to ensure smooth performance. Also, and rather surprisingly, there does not seem to be a comprehensive record keeping system in operation to facilitate exact documentation and monitoring of work routines and input-output measures. Given the experimental/trial nature of work at Ain El Ghazala, one would expect that full and reliable recording of all aspects of farm operations would be regarded as an absolutely fundamental requirement, and that the data sheets would be kept immediately to hand for constant reference and updating.

The existing level of aquafarming trial activity with a limited number of cages might very well be all that can be reasonably sustained at Ain El Ghazala considering that the lagoon is very shallow. There has been some mention of a target annual production of 200 t of cage-cultured fish, but this seems highly optimistic and even unrealistic. Such a projection does not take into account the carrying capacity of the lagoon, which as far as is known has not been closely studied. Another and more immediate constraint on production levels is the lack of sufficient stocks of fingerlings. Fry are currently caught from nearby waters but only in limited quantities. The seed stock supply problem may disappear when the new Ain Ziana hatchery complex begins producing fry, but there will still be a need for a comprehensive hydraulic study of Ain El Ghazala before cage culture activities are developed much beyond their present level.

One option to explore is that of using Ain Ghazala lagoon as a site for nursery cages rather than for full-scale production. Fry produced in a hatchery could be grown to the fingerling stage inside small mesh cages, and then transported to offshore cages. The main advantage of this is that fry can be kept in nursery cages for less than one year, meaning that operations do not have to be carried over the summer period when high temperature and salinity levels prevail.

A more promising way to expand trial work at this site may be through the construction of ponds or raceways on appropriate ground along the lagoon shores. It is understood that GADA/APC officials are tentatively considering just such plans for an area of higher ground close to the present project administration and service buildings, which are already provided with electricity connections and a good road link to the main Darnah-Tubruk highway. The presence of an SMW refrigeration facility at the southern tip of the lagoon is also of some potential advantage.

Finally, Ain El Ghazala facilities could possibly be considered for development within the context of a larger integrated project involving the establishment of trial or semi-commercial cage units in waters off of Khalij Bumba, as noted in the previous section.


5.5.3 El Kuz - El Mhetah sabkha areas


The two sabkhat of El Kuz and El Mhetah are situated along the Gulf of Bumba just east of Ain El Ghazala. During winter months from around October – November water fills all of the lowlying ground back of the shoreline and makes access very difficult. As sabkha environments the two sites are not really appropriate for aquafarming purposes. They have inherent value as nature reserve areas however since their beachfronts provide important marine turtle nesting grounds. The fact that the shoreline remains inaccessible for most of the year has certainly helped to protect these places from human encroachment, although there is a problem of beach pollution due to the presence of tarballs and plastic bags and containers washed up on the shore by prevailing winds.


5.5.4 Tubruk


Tubruk has an excellent natural harbour and operates as a commercial port, oil terminal, and fishing craft anchorage. It offers obvious possibilities as a base for offshore cage farming because of the facilities available and because waters of depths greater than 35m lie within close range. Sheltered cage operations or onshore aquaculture units sited within the immediate vicinity of Tubruk are definitely not indicated for the time being. There is obvious serious oil spillage and sewage pollution of harbour waters. Furthermore, along all the open shoreline spaces on the northen (seaward) side of the Tubruk peninsula, there occurs some of the worst abuse of the coastal environment through solid waste and garbage dumping as anywhere in the entire country.

One exception to the general situation is found at Marsa Oum Eshaouch, a deep inlet that lies a few kilometres east Tubruk Bay. An oil terminal facility is located on the western side of the inlet's entrance, and must be regarded as a potential pollution risk, but the inner waters of the marsa appear quite pristine. Oum Eshaouch has road access and certainly warrants investigation as a possible site for inshore cage culture activities.


5.5.5 El Burdi


El Burdi (Bardiyah) is a small settlement standing atop high cliffs overlooking the sea and, to the east and southeast, a large bay or marsa of the same name. Marsa Burdi branches into two major arms which run back into the mouths of wadis cutting down from the hinterland plateau, one towards the southeast and the other towards the west. The western arm of the bay is accessible by a steep road running down from the settlement to an anchorage area which is used by local artisanal fishers who operate in and out of Burdi with a fleet of some ten smallcraft. The anchorage has a concrete pier and boat launching ramp, but virtually no other facilties. The harbour served as a naval base during World War II, and remnants of some of the old installations are still in evidence. There is no electricity link nor other services available directly at the pier, though an old house that stands a short distance away is connected to the local grid. The anchorage is said to be deep enough to handle small trawlers, though the area just around the pier appeared to be somewhat silted up and shallow during a field visit made in December 1993. Depths in the other parts of the bay range from > 10m close to the entrance to around lm in the western and southeastern arms. It is obvious that little or no protection is available any heavy weather blowing in from the east or northeast. These circumstances, together with the fact that Burdi is subject to silting and flooding from its feeder wadi gorges, militates against the possibility of using its waters for sheltered cage culture activities. Since open waters of sufficient depth for cage culture lie within close operating range, the site could conceivably serve as an offshore cage culture servicing base. This assumes however that infrastructural improvements could be made at the pier area, and that poaching and general security risks would not pose problems at this somewhat remote location lying close to an international border.


5.5.6 Other eastern zone sites


A number of other sites are scattered along the coastline between Bumba and the Egyptian border which function as permanent or seasonal landings and smallcraft shelters for artisanal fishers. Those of note include Abou Douaissah, Toubbeirg, El Agheila, Abou El Afarit, Wadi Sahal, Marsa Gabes, Marsa Lucch, Marsa El Awrah, Marsa Al Muraiyssah, Marsa Harega, Wadi Abou Khalifa, Wadi Ochung El Anzah (Kwefia), and Marsa El Mregah. Virtually all of these places are small unimproved anchorages or protected bays and coves at the entrances to wadi courses, and as such they can be discounted for consideration as possible sites for sheltered cage culture operations or as offshore cage service bases. A possible exception is Marsa Lucch, which features a breakwater and pier with enough depth alongside to accomodate large gillnetters or small trawlers. It offers no other service facilities however, and is in any event not an ideal anchorage because of its exposure to northern and eastern winds and seas during stormy periods.


7 There have reputedly been two incidents of massive fish kills in the nearshore area just west of the plant, the first in 1991 and the second in 1992.

8 Amongst the five Mediterranean species of mullet, only Mugil cephalus and, to a lesser extent, M. labrosus are suitable for fanning.

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