With the privatization of public lands, there are few public spaces for people to access the sea without having to pay. Barbed wire stops people from accessing a privately owned section of Beirut's coastline.
Captain Mohammed (50) steers his fishing trawler while Ibrahim (32) keeps an eye out for fish. Michel (45) works in the foreground.
The crew pulled up two endangered Loggerhead sea turtles. Pieces of plastic covers the head of the turtle. Persistent population declines due to pollution, fish trawling (if they are unable to surface for 20 minutes due to being tangle in fish nets they drown) and development in their nesting areas. These factors have meant the Loggerhead turtle is on the threatened species list since 1978. The turtles were returned to the water and swam away after being caught.
Mohammed Ali (28) prepares the nets for casting.
"We used to use explosives that would bring down a building to fish", says Michel (45) talking about how he fished as a younger man during the Lebanese Civil War. "There is less fish now that long ago", he says afterwards. Working from 5am until 5pm, Michel is paid by the captain for his services. Some days he makes $20 USD.
Miche; (45) and Mohammed Ali (28) remove fish from the trash they have caught.
The fishing crew pulls up puffer fish. "These fish come from Asia and eat everything", Michel says as he cuts their back and removes their meaty interior before discarding the head, skin and organs back to the sea.
Khaled (15) left school last year. Finding solace in the sea, he spends his days keeping the marina clean and fishing. "There weren't many fish yesterday. Today will be different", he says. The Mediterranean Sea represents less than 1% of the global ocean area, but is important in economic and ecological terms. Khaled hopes to live off the sea.
Oil from the drains of a nearby gas station has collected over the long dry summer. The first rains of the Lebanese winter wash all the oil buildup into the sea. Often plastic accumulates by the marina's edge. This plastic degrades over years and decades. "These very small plastic fragments lend themselves to being swallowed by marine species, potentially releasing chemicals into the gut from the plastics," Dr Morritt, of the School of Biological Sciences, University of London, told the BBC in 2015.
People have fished at Jal al Beher, Beirut for centuries. Where fields, low rise traditional housing and small scale fishing once occurred, now uncontrolled construction, pollution and over-fishing are affecting the way people interact with the sea. The bright lights, modern apartment buildings and busy traffic behind the marina are new additions. Old and new collide in a juxtapositional tug of war.
Sewage and household wastewater flow freely into the sea adjacent to the harbour where Abu Eassa (71) has fished for 40 years. According to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), more than 80% of global marine pollution is caused by land-based activities including oil spills, toxic chemical runoff and the discharge of untreated sewage.
Abu Eassa (71) sleeps in his humble home at the marina after a hard day fishing. No longer a young man, he finds fishing more difficult.
Abu Eassa (71) jokes with Khaled (15) outside the room at the marina Abu Eassa calls home. Age and youth, experience and energy, their friendship is strong and complementary.
Khaled (15) left school last year. Finding solace in the Mediterranean, he spends his days keeping the marina clean and fishing. The Mediterranean Sea is the world's largest inland sea, at 965,000 sq miles. With human activity increasing in the 20th and 21st centuries, the wellbeing of those that depend on it is endangered.
Abu Eassa (71) and Khalid (15) have a strong relationship, where youth, experience and a shared passion for the sea, blend into an unusual friendship.
Abu Eassa (71) plays cards with his friends, all who rely to differing degrees on subsistence fishing. It remains to be seen how long the Lebanese coast can sustain the onslaught of rampant over-development without wastewater treatment facilities, access to the water and fishing controls to reduce the capture of young fish. These are all negatively impacting the daily lives of Lebanon's diminishing fishermen.
Abu Eassa's hands are worn and rough from years of working the sea. Here he ties hooks to a line.
Khalid (15) and Abu Eassa (71) load a boat to go fishing. Abu Eassa is one of the most experienced fishermen in Beirut having fished the waters for over 40 years.
A small fishing trawler leaves for a day's fishing in the Lebanese Mediterranean.
Abu Eassa casts of floats so he can track the nets if they drift over night. It only adds up to 1% of the world’s oceans, but the Mediterranean sea is one of the most international waters on our planet. Nineteen nations border it, more than 10,000 species live in it and millions of people get food, work and pleasure from it. It is the feeding and breeding ground for many endangered species. Protecting this 1% could make a world of difference.
Often after laying a series of long nets of the seabed less than half a mile from shore, there may be only 1 or 2kg of fish if Abu Eassa and Khalid are lucky.
"Today's catch is small", utters Abu Eassa (71) who has fished here for over 40 years. New, luxury apartments tower behind the marina, sewage runs freely into the sea nearby and the city’s trash often gathers by the water's edge. The Mediterranean is surrounded by 19 nations. Lebanon is one of them.
Fish soup and calamari make a delicious dinner. Despite this, there are many days where no fish are caught. Over-fishing, pollution and environmental degradation related to thousands of new apartments built on the waterfront mean the marine system is being damaged. The Mediterranean Sea bears the brunt of this pollution. Marine life suffers immeasurably.
Abu Eassa (71) and Khaled (15) eat together.
Khaled (15) dives off rocks as friends look on near where he is learning to live off the sea.
Khalid (15) throws a goose into the water so it can have it's daily swim. Khalid does not go to school preferring to fish from the pier and go to sea in small fishing boats owned by people at the marina.
During a storm, Khaled helps remove a damaged boat from the harbor. Khaled's hand can be seen above a wave crashing against the harbor wall. A scientific study by the Universidad de Cádiz, Spain found that concentrations of plastic in the Mediterranean Plastic were dominated by millimeter-sized fragments. The research showed a higher proportion of large plastic objects than that present in oceanic gyres, reflecting the closer connection with pollution sources.
Abu Eassa (71) has fished the Mediterranean for over 40 years. Here he watched a pot boil. "L'bergash bi-aykolni", he curses referring to the mosquitos that bite him at sunrise and sunset, especially in the hot Summers. Abu Eassa respects the sea and understands the way in which it's changed over the years.
Abu Eassa (71) and Khaled (15) fish together from the pier at sunset. Both rely on the sea for livelihoods, food and solace. Their relationship with the sea is endangered.