Trash pollutes Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline
Plastic bottles and soft drink cans. Blue garbage bags. An old television and 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. For many Lebanese, that is due to the swirling trash. It pollutes its shores. The coastline was once a source of pride.
Ahmad Obeitri is a fisherman. For the past 30 years, he has been a fixture at Lebanon's corniche. It is popular seaside promenade 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, tins and other containers. They toss them into 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. It caused summer riots in 2015 as trash piled in the streets. The government solved the problem. They simply shifted the trash to landfills and 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 a 56-year-old civil engineer and swimmer. He said the open sewage running into the sea is his biggest problem.
There is a group of 50 swimmers, including Absi. They recently organized a 4.6-kilometer swim to highlight the problem. They also promoted the idea that the sea is for all.
"We see the violations are increasing and there is no deterrent," he said.