Trash pol­lut­ing Le­banese shores shames res­i­dents

Fish­er­man Ah­mad Obeitri says trash is killing off what’s left of marine life

The Gulf Today - - MIDDLE EAST -

BEIRUT: Plas­tic bottles, soft drink cans and blue garbage bags. An old tele­vi­sion, dis­carded veg­eta­bles and cof­fee cups. These are some of the ran­dom things that can be seen lo a ting in the sea along Le­banon’s coast­line.

Once a source of pride, the coun­try’s Mediter­ranean coast­line has be­come a source of shame for many Le­banese be­cause of the swirling trash that pol­lutes its shores.

Fish­er­man Ah­mad Obeitri has been a ix­ture at Le­banon’s cor­niche — a pop­u­lar sea­side promenade in cen­tral Beirut — for the past 30 years. He says the trash is killing off what’s left of marine life.

“These days if a ish comes our way it will only ind ny­lon bags, garbage and sewage to feed on,” he said, lament­ing over peo­ple who eat and drink as they walk on the cor­niche and then toss their cans, tins and other con­tain­ers in the sea.

“You can open a cafe un­der wa­ter and in­vite your friends,” he added sar­cas­ti­cally.

Lit­ter­ing is not le­banon’ s only prob­lem. The coun­try has a long-run­ning solid waste man­age­ment prob­lem that caused sum­mer ri­ots in 2015 as trash piled in the streets. The gov­ern­ment solved the prob­lem by sim­ply shift­ing the trash to landills and coastal dumps that of­ten run into the Mediter­ranean.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists say thou­sands of tons of trash and un­treated waste is get­ting dumped di­rectly into the sea.

Ab­dul­lah Absi, a 56-year-old civil en­gi­neer, said as a swim­mer, the open sewage run­ning into the sea was his biggest prob­lem.

A group of 50 swim­mers, in­clud­ing Absi, re­cently or­ga­nized a 4.6-kilo­me­ter (2.9-mile) swim to high­light the prob­lem and the idea that the sea is for all.

“We see the vi­o­la­tions are in­creas­ing and there is no de­ter­rent,” he said.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Trash floats next to rocky coastal area in the Mediter­ranean Sea on the Beirut coast­line.

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