Trash pollutes Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline
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Plastic bottles. Soft drink cans. Blue garbage bags. An old television. Discarded vegetables. And coffee cups. These are some of the random things that can be seen floating in the sea along Lebanon's coastline.
The country's Mediterranean coastline has become a source of shame. That is due to the swirling trash. It pollutes its shores. The coastline was once a source of pride.
Ahmad Obeitri is a fisherman. He is a fixture at Lebanon's corniche. He has been for the past 30 years. It is a popular seaside promenade. It is in central Beirut. He says the trash is killing off what's left of marine life.
"These days if a fish comes our way it will only find nylon bags, garbage and sewage to feed on." he said.
He laments the people who eat and drink as they walk on the corniche. He sees them toss their cans. They toss their tins. And they toss other containers. They throw them 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 solid waste management problem. It caused summer riots in 2015. This happened as trash piled in the streets. The government solved the problem. They simply shifted the trash to landfills. And to coastal dumps. These often run into the Mediterranean.
Environmentalists say thousands of tons of trash and untreated waste is getting dumped directly into the sea.
Abdullah Absi is civil engineer. He is also a swimmer. He says the open sewage running into the sea is his biggest problem.
There is a group of 50 swimmers. This group included Absi. They organized a 4.6-kilometer swim. They wanted to highlight the problem. They also promoted the idea that the sea is for all.
"We see the violations are increasing. But there is no deterrent," he said.