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Sunday June 23, 2024

World Oceans Day 2024: Marine life off Karachi coast endangered by human activities

WWF-P official says contaminated waterways massively polluting seawater in and around Karachi port

By Uneeba Zameer Shah
June 08, 2024
A view of a boat stuck in fisheries area due to garbage in Karachi on June 5, 2024. — INP
A view of a boat stuck in fisheries area due to garbage in Karachi on June 5, 2024. — INP

KARACHI: Moazzam Khan, the technical adviser for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), has expressed grave concern about the pollution levels in and around the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), likening the area to a "dead zone" for marine life.

He highlighted the detrimental impact of human activities on marine life, attributing the extinction of at least 10 vital marine species as the result of the severe pollution in Karachi's port areas.

Speaking with Geo News on the occasion of World Oceans Day, the WWF official emphasised that approximately 500 million gallons of sewage is released into the sea on a daily basis.

Arabian Pupfish. — WWF-P
Arabian Pupfish. — WWF-P

This, along with the release of contaminated water from the Lyari and Malir rivers as well as various other waterways, has contributed to significant pollution over a 10-kilometer area outside the Karachi port.

The official added that the areas around Gulbai and Machar Colony are also highly polluted for marine life. He added that there is no marine life around these areas due to pollution.

Khan added that before 1947, oysters were shipped from the Karachi port area to the viceroy in New Delhi.

Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin. — WWF-P
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin. — WWF-P

Lampshell is a living fossil that has now gone extinct from Baba Island, Bhit Shah and KPT, he said, adding that the aquatic creature has survived in the ocean for 500 million years, defying all conditions.

Lamp shell (Lingula anatina) now extinct in Karachi. — WWF-P
Lamp shell (Lingula anatina) now extinct in Karachi. — WWF-P

However, it could not withstand the marine pollution of Karachi and is now locally extinct. Lampshell was last seen near KPT 37 years ago, said Khan.

Meanwhile, Arabian Pupfish — a small-sized fish — has also gone extinct in Karachi's port area. It was the first means of training the children of fishermen for hunting, the WWF official told Geo News.

The Caulerpa seaweed is also now extinct from the Manora beach in the city, Khan said, adding that it was was used in clothing, cosmetics and more than 40 other products.

He also lamented the disappearance of the marine sponge in Shams Pir, an island in Karachi.

"Until 1975, humpback dolphins were seen at Karachi's port areas, but they no longer enter the city due to pollution in the sea," said Khan.