Home Environment A brief history of HEPCA in the Red Sea

A brief history of HEPCA in the Red Sea


By: Chris Wood


The Red Sea is home to some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world with many endemic species living on them, (meaning they are only found in the Red Sea).

There are many pressures upon this great natural resource including tourism and associated activities such as coastal development and the local fishing industry.

HEPCA is a recognised NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) which was established by concerned members of the scuba diving community in Hurghada during 1992 and officially registered with the Red Sea Governorate in 1995. HEPCA's goals are to protect the natural resources of the Red Sea through encouraging sustainable management of tourism and local industry and provision of environmental education for all.

The growth in tourism, in particular diving tourism, has meant that Hurghada has grown from a small fishing village into a popular tourist destination and it now spans over 25 kilometres of coastline. Coastal development has destroyed many of the fringing coral reefs, with reclamation for hotel development and dust from coastal building sites smothering the reefs. In addition, development is not currently supported by sufficient infrastructure, for example waste management, which leads to problems with pollution and increased health risks. There are already moves to address these problems being undertaken by a number of organisations.

Hurghada is visited by thousands of tourists each year, the majority of whom make use of the many charter boats available in the area for scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing. In order to stop charter boats anchoring on coral reefs and destroying this fabulous resource, studies were undertaken to assess the carrying capacity of the reefs for divers and snorkellers. The results of these studies were the installation of the suggested number of moorings for each reef.

HEPCA has already installed and is committed to maintain over 270 moorings in Hurghada alone. HEPCA has also installed and is maintaining moorings in Safaga and further afield in the northern and southern Egyptian Red Sea, totalling over 600. The majority of funding for this programme currently comes from His Excellency the Governor of the Red Sea and the fees paid by its valued members.

HEPCA is always looking for new supporters and members so if you are willing to contribute to this valuable work please contact the office for more details.

 


REMEMBER THE CORAL CODE
• Do not touch, break or remove any corals or shells - be careful with your fins and when taking photographs.
• Do not harass marine life - you are in their home.
• Fishing and spearfishing are prohibited in Protected Areas.
• Fish feeding is prohibited because it upsets the biological balance on the reef and can kill marine creatures.
• Do not throw litter into the sea (for example cigarette ends, plastic bags, toilet paper) because it causes pollution and kills the reef - leave only ripples.
•Do enjoy the beautiful scenery and wildlife.



 

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