As part of our on-site research, we took a trip down to the fishing town of Tyre (‘ Sour’ in Arabic). We went to collect stories and images about fishermen, their lifestyles, and the problems they faced, such as overfishing and trash pollution. All of this information will inform the creation of our next show.
Tyre is famed for its fishing port and ancient Roman and Phoenician ruins peppered around the city and even underwater.
We stayed in a beautiful, 150 year old Lebanese home located in the old Christian quarter, overlooking the port and footsteps away from where the fishermen gathered daily for coffee, cards and trade.
On the first day we met with Lamia, a UN coordinator who oversees the Tyre youth program. She told us about previous events that took place in Tyre to engage youth in recycling. When we told her we were interested in fishermen, she immediately called her good friend Michael, a fisherman.
Michael joined us for a coffee. His main words: “It’s all luck.” The key to finding fish is to follow where birds go to dive for fish. Michael stressed that fishing is the most vulnerable trade in Lebanon. The fishermen do not have a union to protect their wages and their well-being and livelihood is completely dependent upon what the sea offers. It’s all based on luck, weather, the tides, and things beyond their control.
Another story he told us was about the time his friend spotted a two ton tuna fish. It was such a frightening sight that he couldn’t speak for a few minutes. After he regaled this amazing story, they captured the giant tuna, took it on shore and mummified it. It is still here.
Michael invited us to join him in the port the next morning and experience his daily routine as a fisherman, an offer we took up...