Karachi—The Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change Wednesday expressed its concern over soaring level of sea pollution, which has degraded coastal ecosystem, particularly mangroves and marine life.
The senate body asked the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and Sindh Wildlife and Forest Department to boost coping measures in collaboration with relevant government authorities to fight the pollution by controlling disposal of untreated industrial effluents and domestic sewage into sea.
Presided over by the Senate Committee’s Chairman, Mir Muhammad Yousaf Badini, he emphasized the significance of Pakistan’s marine and coastal ecosystems and the biodiversity they support.
It was a matter of concern that unsustainable human interference, construction activities, conversion of mangroves area for non-confirming uses, release of the untreated industrial and domestic sewage had deprived the country of the sustainability of such socio-economic and environmental benefits, Mir Muhammad Yousaf Badini regretted.
We must realize that the seas provide a unique set of goods and services to society, including moderation of climate, processing of waste and toxicants, provision of vital food, medicines and employment for significant numbers of people.
Our coasts provide space to live and directly and indirectly create wealth, including millions of jobs in industries such as fishing, aquaculture and tourism,” he said.
The Senate Committee’s member, Ms Nuzhat Sadiq, said awareness-raising among local communities, stakeholders and enforcement of relevant environmental laws were vital to protecting the marine and coastal ecosystems from further degradation.
Secretary Climate Change Ministry, Syed Abu Ahmed Akif, said that Pakistan’s coastal areas are most likely to face growing climate risks like storm surges, sea level-rise, cyclones, heat waves, cloud bursts in future.
‘Climate change poses risks for cities near the ocean and could flood more often or more severely, if sea level continues to rise. If that happens, many people will lose their homes and businesses,” he warned.
He suggested that these climate change-induced risks could be mitigated through adaptation measures, mainly increasing mangroves forest cover and averting encroachment in coastal areas, boosting network of installation of early coastal cyclone warning systems and sensiting coastal communities about possible coping measures to save their lives and livelihoods.
Sindh Chief Conservator of Forests, Aijaz Ahmed Nizamani, briefed the Senate Committee about various measures taken for boosting mangroves forest cover in the limit of the province.
He told the meeting that around 110,212 mangroves trees have been planted over last 23 years in different coastal areas of the province, with survival ratio of over 70 percent.
“But release of fresh water that also carries nutrient-rich silt and deposits it into the Indus delta is pre-dominant cause of the rapid worsening state of the mangroves forests and was stumbling-block to the growth of new mangroves forests planted time to time,” Nizamani said.
Besides, inadequate flow of fresh water into the Indus Delta was also leading to the coastal bank erosion and sea intrusion in the inland fertile areas. Other threats included cutting of mangroves for fuel and fodder and grazing purposes, he highlighted.
The chief conservator pointed out that environmentalists advocate a minimum 10 million acre feet (MAF) freshwater discharge into the delta for sustainable management.
Apprising the Senate body about the benefits and services the country’s mangroves forests provide, the chief conservator said that besides being first natural wall of defence against natural calamities including cyclones and sea level rise, the forests are important supplier of nutrient and oxygen, resource-rich habitat for many species of fish and shrimp.
They also help stabilise shorelines, reduce coastal erosion, protect coastal areas from storm damage and a act as carbon sinks and natural water treatment plants.