The Khazar or the Caspian Sea is a water area bound to Iran from the south and to Russia from the north. The sea, which is classified sometimes as the largest lake in the world, and sometimes as the smallest self-sufficient sea in the Earth, is the largest water area enclosed with the land. The closed nature of the Caspian Sea has made it home to unique animals and plants, thus it is a rich source of aquatics, which is why many people are fishing in the margin of the sea. Beach seine fishing is one of the oldest methods for catching bony fish, including whitefish, in the southern margin of the Caspian Sea, dating back several hundred years. According to some evidence, this type of fishing began in Bandar Anzali, and gradually spread to other parts of the southern margin of the Caspian Sea. Currently, about 10,000 people are fishing, under the form of 120 cooperatives, in the southern margin of the Caspian Sea. However, pollution is a serious and dangerous problem for this vast sea and its enclosed environment, so that annually about 122 thousand tons of pollutants from Caspian littoral states, including oil pollutions, household (domestic) and industrial sewage, different types of wastes and plastics, and pollutants of commercial fleets pollute the sea environment and endanger different biological species. Environmental degradation has affected not only the life of biological species but also the life of the local fishermen, with a 40% reduction in fishing rate last year, and as a result, the income of the fishermen, who this job is the only source of their income had a sharp decrease, making it hard for them to afford costs. Continuation of this process will result in the extinction of marine species. It can also lead to unemployment of 10,000 Iranians, which itself has many security, social and political consequences.
Rahman and 50 other fishermen are engaged in fishing in a cooperative in the city of Dastak. Beside his old age, he has to continue this job to cover college costs of his child; however, he works as a taxi driver after his working hours. He is also very querulous about his low income as other fishermen.
The edges of the sea are generally covered with floating waste, which is a concern for the environment. Annually, about 130 tons of pollution, including different types of wastes and plastics, are being released into the sea from the countries around the Caspian Sea.
Reza has been fishing for 15 years. He complains about the shortage of fish for fishing and says in the past the situation was very different, they caught several boxes of fish in every fishing time, but now if they are lucky enough, they would catch only one or two boxes, which would not be sufficient to cover the living costs of one person let alone a cooperative with 40 workers.
One of the main contributing factors in pollution and destruction of biological species is the discharge of unrefined sewage into the sea. Discharge of sewage into the sea has caused 12 areas of the Iran coastline to be polluted and un-swimmable.
Mohsen, 38 years old, is working in a cooperative in Anzali. He believes that fish do not live naturally in the sea anymore, and if the Fisheries Organization does not release fish fries into the sea every year in early summer, they will no longer have fish to fish.
Aquatic resources of the Caspian Sea have been reduced due to numerous pollutions. As in 2017, the catch rate was reduced by 40 to 50 percent, and the fishermen nets were more vacant than in previous years.
Morad, whose only source of income is fishing, says that he can no longer see fishing as a job because catch rate reduces every year, thus, our income is lower than last year, and that all of these are due to the high pollution of the sea. [He adds] they discharged so much the waste into the sea that our job will be collecting wastes and we will gather wastes in the net.
According to statistics, most of the plastic waste in the sea comes from Iran. It is commonplace to find trash in a fishing net, and the presence of these type of wastes has irreparable harms to the sea and its aquatics.
Ramezan Ali is a weaver and repairman of fishing nets. According to him, when he was 10 years old, he came to the beach for help and learning to weave nets. He says at that times every time after fishing there was so much fish that every fisherman, in addition to the amount of fish that took to the market for sale, also took home some to help guests at the parties, but now there are so less fish that it's hard to afford the boat and tractor costs.
Floating wastes are seen in the fishermen's net every time, on average. 60 to 80 percent of coastal wastes enter the seas, which endangers aquatic as well as humans’ life.
Mohsen, who lives near the beach, is very sad about discharging sewage into the sea and believes that it is because of the sewage that the fish have been reduced, making life like hell for them beside the recent high price of goods.
There are many places on the coastline, which are the entrance of sewage to the sea. One of these areas is the wind park (wind farm) sewage in the city of Anzali. Local people have written warnings about the risk of disease and the prohibition of swimming on rocks around the sewage pipe.