Gaza fisherman battles poverty with plastic-bottle boat

Palestinian fisherman Muath Abu Zeid, second from left, whose boat is made of 700 empty plastic bottles, sells his catch to passersby on the nearby corniche in Gaza, making between $5 and $11 a day. (AFP)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Gaza fisherman battles poverty with plastic-bottle boat

  • A broad slab of wood lashed to the top serves as a seat, allowing Abu Zeid to row a few hundred meters out from shore — far enough to go fishing.
  • Many in Gaza depend on fishing for a living, despite Israel enforcing a fishing zone limited to 9 miles in the south

GAZA: With hundreds of empty plastic bottles collected from the shores of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, fisherman Muath Abu Zeid has turned litter into a floating source of income.

The Palestinian father-of-four used glue and old nets to bind the bottles into a small fishing boat that he hopes will help him support his family.

Simple but effective, the 700-bottle craft is capable of carrying up to eight people out to sea, according to its 35-year-old skipper.

A broad slab of wood lashed to the top serves as a seat, allowing Abu Zeid to row a few hundred meters out from shore — far enough to go fishing.

It takes him about eight hours to pull in between five and seven kg of sardines, mullet and other small fish with his rod.

He sells his catch to passersby on the nearby corniche, making between 20 and 40 shekels ($5-$11) a day. Muath’s two younger brothers — Mohammed, 23, and Ashraf, 20 — accompany him on his daily excursions. Neither were able to find work elsewhere.

“I’m a house painter but because of the difficult situation I’m unemployed,” said skipper Muath, a descendent of refugees from a village near Jaffa in present-day Israel.

“So this boat has been a lifesaver for me and my family.”

Under a crippling Israeli blockade for more than a decade, Gaza suffers 44 percent unemployment, rising to a “staggering” 60 percent amongst the young, according to 2017 World Bank figures.

The coastal enclave’s electricity crisis means sewage is often pumped directly into the sea, leaving its 40-km coastline heavily polluted.

Yet many in Gaza depend on fishing for a living, despite Israel enforcing a fishing zone limited to nine nautical miles in the south of the enclave and just six nautical miles in the north, near Israel. Muath picked up the idea for the boat on YouTube, where he saw hobbyists designing boats using plastic bottles discarded by holidaymakers on beaches.

“I appreciated the idea and said to myself, why not preserve the environment and create a living for me and my family — and that’s what happened,” he said.

The craft cost him about $150, borrowed from his father.

He hopes to buy a fishing net soon, “so that I can pull in larger amounts of fish, sell them and live a decent life”.

The craft is fragile and he’s hemmed in by the frontier with neighboring Egypt, but he says the waters along the border have plenty of fish waiting to be caught.


Video shows rescue of baby from plastic bag in Georgia woods

A Georgia Sheriff saves a baby found in a plastic bag, in this screen grab taken from social media June 25, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 26 June 2019
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Video shows rescue of baby from plastic bag in Georgia woods

  • Officials are asking the public to share any knowledge of a woman in the late stages of pregnancy who may have given birth to the baby

CUMMING, Georgia: A Georgia sheriff released dramatic body-cam video Tuesday showing the rescue of a newborn girl who was found alive inside a plastic bag in the woods.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office made the video public in hopes that it will generate credible tips in the case.
Authorities have been searching for the baby’s mother since June 6, when a family in a nearby home heard her crying in a wooded area in Cumming.
The video shows deputies tearing open the plastic bag containing the child as she cries. Then, they wrap her in a blanket to keep her warm.
Hospital workers decided to call the girl Baby India, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported .
“We are happy to report that Baby India is thriving and is in the care of the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Tuesday accompanying the video.
Officials are asking the public to share any knowledge of a woman in the late stages of pregnancy who may have given birth to the baby.
“We release this footage in hopes to receive credible information on the identity of Baby India and to show how important it is to find closure in this case,” the sheriff’s office said.
Cumming is about 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of Atlanta.