Greek Fishermen Fight Against Plastic Pollution. PHOTOS/Arab News
KERATSINI – Plastic waste become the main enemy of fishermen in Greece At the moment. Garbage on the seabed doesn’t just come from Greece, but from all over the Mediterranean. The trash moves with the ocean currents.
According to a Greek fisherman, Lefteris Arapakis, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. “We’re swimming in plastic,” said Arapakis, whose family has been fishing for five generations.
When unloading his catch, he found not only fish, but also bottles, boots, plastic pipes and fishing nets. All that trash was dragged up from the bottom of the Aegean Sea.
“The plastic catch that morning weighed about 100 kilograms,” said the 29-year-old economist and co-founder of Enaleia, an NGO that encourages fishermen to collect marine debris caught in their nets.
Since its founding in 2018, the NGO has worked with more than 1,200 fishermen in Greece to raise awareness of marine environmental degradation. Active in 42 ports across Greece, Enaleia provides fishermen with large bags for marine debris that they can store in the bins upon return to port.
For every kilo of plastic they ship, they receive a “symbolic” small amount. “That money is enough to buy drinks,” said Arapakis, who is in Paris this week for global talks on limiting plastic pollution.
Representatives from 175 countries are meeting at UNESCO headquarters with the aim of making progress toward reaching an agreement next year that covers the entire life cycle of plastics.
“Since October, fishermen affiliated with Enaleia have been hauling in 20 tons of plastic and old fishing equipment every month. Nearly 600 tonnes have been collected over the past five years,” said the NGO.
The collected plastic is transported to a recycling plant in the Megara industrial area near Keratsini, where it is converted into pellets to make new products such as socks, swimwear or furniture.