Protect Oceans

RECOGNISING the critical importance of seas for the future of the planet, the UN held its first ever conference on the subject in which 193 member nations issued an urgent call for action to reverse the decline in health and productivity of the world’s oceans.
Covering three-quarter of the Earth, the oceans supply nearly half the oxygen that we breathe, absorb over a quarter of the carbon dioxide we produce, provide food, and play key roles in water cycles and the climate system. The initiative of holding an international conference by the world body and the countries agreeing to a consensus plan to combat threats to oceans in fact has come at a very critical time when our waterways, key to our existence, are under massive invasion and destruction by mankind through variety of offshore and land based debris including, industrial and human wastes, sewage as well as oil spills. Perhaps the most imposing devastation is being caused by plastic and synthetic materials. The seabed especially near coastal regions is badly contaminated, chiefly with plastic bags.
We expect that member countries will live up to the commitments made in the New York conference and also extend helping hand to each other to tackle the problem head on. In case of Pakistan, the situation is very serious as continued unplanned expansion and industralisation of Karachi and coastal areas has degraded the natural marine environment. It has resulted in destruction of habitats while unabated pollution is causing detrimental effect on the coastal amenities and productive potential of coastal ecosystems. According to some estimates, Karachi coastal areas receive over 400 million gallon per day of untreated effluents. This is in addition to hundreds of tonnes of plastic waste that finds its way to the beaches of Karachi or could be seen as flotsam in coastal waters. The economic deprivation future generations will suffer from degradation of coastal environment is immeasurable. If tangible efforts to reduce pollution are not initiated, this will result in erosion of land close to the coast, loss of biodiversity, fisheries, dislocation of coastal communities and pollution of beaches.
Nature has endowed Pakistan with some of the finest beach areas in the region. If judiciously developed this could add to country’s repute and attract tourism. With CPEC now well underway, there is enough reason to clean up, develop and maintain our beaches and coastal areas. In our view this task must become integral part of CPEC. In parallel, there is an urgent need for local administration in Sindh and Balochistan to design coastal planning and put in place a regulatory mechanism for dumping of waste in order to save marine life and environment of the coasts. Corporate sector should also show social responsibility and take necessary steps to treat the toxic waste and avoid dumping it in the sea. In fact, it is everyone’s responsibility to play a positive part for protection of environment. Fishermen and pleasure seekers going out in the sea should also avoid throwing waste in the sea like plastic bags, bottles, cans, paper stuff etc.

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