‘More plastic than fish’: Greek fishermen battle to clean a cruel sea

‘More plastic than fish’: Greek fishermen battle to clean a cruel sea
Fonte: The Guardian

The fish market at Keratsini comes alive at night. Under floodlights, crews in rubber waders and boots wash down the decks of boats moored in the harbour, repair nets dangling from cranes, and put on ice the shrimp, calamari, mullet and hake that are their latest pickings.

Recently other things – objects that might never have been pulled from the sea – have also supplemented hauls. “We’re talking about lots of waste, lots of garbage,” says Dimitris Dalianis. “We’re finding it almost everywhere.”

At 47, Dalianis has never thought of himself as an eco-warrior. Like trawler captains the world over, fish has been his business. But after 30 years on the high seas – “a hard life, a lonely life” – the man more usually known as Piraeus’s youngest trawler captain has also acquired a reputation for removing the detritus from the waters plied by his 26-metre boat, Urania. And these days, no matter how deep his nets go, there is nearly nothing he doesn’t discover.

“Bottles, cans, plastics, they’re commonplace,” he says, momentarily breaking into a smile at the thought of it being cleaned up. “I’ve seen dolphins and turtles out there and I know they ingest it. The sea can be cruel, it can make a man hard, but it feels good to know we are dealing with it and the crew like the little bonus [of compensation] too.”

Not that long ago, Dalianis concedes he would have done what almost all his peers have always done, which is throw the debris back into the water. Now he and his five-man Egyptian crew are conscientious rubbish collectors, keeping whatever waste their nets pick up in a bin that nestles between the piles of neatly packed ropes on Urania’s deck.

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