The company that runs the Dolphin Reef in Eilat was fined NIS 350,000 on Tuesday for damaging coral in the Red Sea. The company’s managers said they would appeal the verdict and asked the court to delay the fine, but it refused.
Roni Zilber, the manager of the Dolphin Reef and the management of the company were found guilty of damaging protected natural resources in the area by placing nets on the coral and installing an iron structure on the Red Sea floor.
“The defendants damaged countless coral colonies,” Magistrate’s Court Judge Yoel Eden said in his verdict.
“The net became entangled in a large number of corals, some of which were broken and uprooted from the ground, causing damage to numerous coral colonies,” the verdict said.
Inspectors of the Nature and Parks Authority who dived in the Dolphin Reef area provided evidence of the devastation suffered by the coral.
The judge said the evidence the inspectors presented proved that the damage is severe and that the defendants damaged an ecological system consisting of a large number of living creatures, whose existence depends on the corals.
He said the defendants had carried out work at the reef despite an explicit prohibition against it and knowing the ecological implications of doing so.
The magistrate also said that individuals who set up a business bordering on natural resouces must assume the obligation not to harm them. He noted the defendants had already been convicted of similar offenses in the past, although on a smaller scale. Therefore the fine imposed on them should be close to the highest enabled by law, he ruled.