Africa

In Egypt, these fishermen are going out to catch plastic, not fish. Here’s why

A worker is seen at a recycling factory, which recycles plastic garbage collected from the Nile river, in Giza, Egypt May 24, 2021.

The initiative provides a sustainable solution for helping to clean up the Nile. Image: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

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Africa

  • Local fishermen in Egypt are catching fewer and fewer fish as the Nile becomes clogged with plastic.
  • Local environmental group, "VeryNile" has asked fishermen to use their boats to collect plastic bottles from the river.
  • The group will then pay above average price for these bottles.
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For 17 years, Mohamed Nasar has supported his family of five by fishing in the Nile River near the banks of the tiny island of Al-Qursaya close to central Cairo.

But the 58-year-old says fishermen like himself catch fewer fish every year as the Nile has become clogged with plastic bottles, bags and other waste.

"The fish get caught in the bottles, and they die," said Nasar.

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A local environmental group named "VeryNile" has asked the island's fishermen to use their boats to collect plastic bottles from the river. VeryNile says it buys the bottles at a higher price than the general market price on offer from traders or recyling plants.

The initiative provides a sustainable solution for helping to clean up the Nile, while providing an additional source of income for fisherman like Nasar.

Fisherman Mohamed Nasar, 58, uses his boat to collect plastic garbage from the Nile river in Giza, Egypt May 20, 2021.
Fisherman Mohamed Nasar, 58, uses his boat to collect plastic garbage from the Nile river in Giza, Egypt May 20, 2021. Image: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

"This job helped us a bit. We come and collect about 10 to 15 kilos (of plastic bottles), we get about 12 Egyptian pounds ($0.7682) for each," Nasar said as he sat in his boat collecting bottles.

Nasar, who made about 100 EGP a day after six hours of fishing, can now make up to about 200 EGP extra by collecting bottles.

Another fisherman, Saeed Hassanein, said cleaner Nile water would mean more fish.

"On the one hand, the Nile is cleaner, and on the other hand the fisherman now has more than one source of income," he said.

With the help of more than 40 fishermen, VeryNile has over the past year collected around 18 tonnes of plastic bottles, most of which were sold to recyclers.

($1 = 15.6200 Egyptian pounds)

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