Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

2009

Abstract

The highly productive coastal Mediterranean fishery off the Nile River delta collapsed after the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1965. But the fishery has been recovering dramatically since the mid-1980s, coincident with large increases in fertilizer application and sewage discharge in Egypt. We use stable isotopes of nitrogen (δ15N) to demonstrate that 60%–100% of the current fishery production may be from primary production stimulated by nutrients from fertilizer and sewage runoff. Although the establishment of the dam put Egypt in an ideal position to observe the impact of rapid increases in nutrient loading on coastal productivity in an extremely oligotrophic sea, the Egyptian situation is not unique. Such anthropogenically enhanced fisheries also may occur along the northern rim of the Mediterranean and offshore of some rapidly developing tropical countries, where nutrient concentrations in the coastal waters were previously very low.

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