Suez Canal: economic hopes and ecological fears

The inaugural canal is 145 years old and is the main source of income in Egypt. As a result, its recent expansion has spilled into ecological chaos in the Mediterranean region, preceding scientists.

Egypt plans to build a new capital

The works, completed in just 11 months, add an additional 37 km route in the part of the sea channel that connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. In addition, the main passage has been widened and deepened. Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal is the main source of foreign exchange for the country, whose economy is slowly recovering from the economic impact resulting from the political turmoil of the “Arab Spring” of 2011 and the security crisis in the region. The new section cost 7.9 billion euros, fully funded by Egyptian investors. It will shorten the waiting period for ships from 6 p.m. to 11 a.m. The Egyptian government expects that by allowing more ships to pass, the expansion will multiply the chain's turnover, from an estimated 4.7 billion euros at the end of 2015 to nearly 12 billion euros in 2023.

Ecological fears

Among environmentalists, the project is viewed with skepticism. They fear it will cause chaos and destruction across the Mediterranean. Since its construction 145 years ago, the Suez Canal has served as a corridor for alien species to invade the region. In the absence of natural enemies such as parasites or predators, they reproduce extremely quickly. So far, 444 of these species have entered the Mediterranean through the canal. As the sea warms, due to global climate change, they migrate north and west, and it will be fundamentally impossible to get them out of the Mediterranean again. They draw attention to species such as Rhopilema nomadica, a type of jellyfish that, since the late 1970s, has appeared in the Mediterranean Sea every year in kilometer-long swarms.